Looking Cool In Hat & Boots

Which is what the guy in the header shot was.  It was taken in Warrington a little while ago, I had travelled in one Sunday to meet up with friends for coffee, cake and gossip and of course one of my cameras came along for the ride. Coffee etc done I was making my way back to the car when I passed this gentleman sat on one of the granite benches that are a feature of the main shopping area. This area was heavily revamped some time ago with a series of  fountains and other architectural features, spotlit colonnades, columns etc. He was sat in a pose of quiet contemplation and seemed completely at ease with the world around and his whole ensemble of stylish hat, denim jacket, rolled up jeans and well worn army boots were just too good an image to miss. I did contemplate trying to grab an image on the sly but the set was just too good to risk spoiling with an inferior shot. So I approached and asked if He minded me taking a shot, and with the bare minimum off effort he agreed with a quiet ‘If you must’. Which was a pleasant change to the omnipresent offer for your camera to go somewhere anatomically tricky. So thanks again and hats off to the cool guy.

I like candids and street photography and I always try and take a few when I am out and about. The puzzle is always do you you move through the crowds and take on the move or take up a strategic position and let the crowds pass you or do a combination of both. I know that Henri Cartier Bresson is claimed the king of  candids but I have a great liking for the images of Eugene Atget which are ‘of the street’ and feature very few people. The detail in them is superb but then he was using a plate camera as opposed to 35mm.  Atget concentrates on architectural detail and was recording Paris at a time of great redevelopments so a lot of what he captured has now disappeared.

This chimes with another photographer whose work I really like, the Newcastle upon Tyne based Jimmy Forsyth who recorded the changes in and around  the city during the upheavals of the T. Dan Smith era when great swathes of terraced housing and other links with the city’s past were swept away. Forsyth was self taught and had suffered an injury which cost him most of the sight in one eye and to earn a little extra money he also took  photographs of the people around him and these images also play their part as a social record.  In some instances these Forsyth photographs would be the only pictures that a family would have of themselves, owning a camera being an out of reach luxury. So thanks to his efforts , someone’s party dress, new jacket, Christmas cowboy outfit along with the corner shop, visit to the market and the local bus have all been preserved. These things are sometimes written off as the ephemera of life but they are missed when they are gone and as families fragment more these bygone images serve in the place of the oral tradition of tales being passed down from generation to generation.  

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