It’s a fact of any photographer’s life that pictures happen in the most unexpected of circumstances. You can walk for hours and get nothing but just as you turn to head for home a whole series of pictures can appear. A single day can give you more pictures than an entire month. Photography is unpredictable, sometimes frustrating, but successful pictures always seem to correspond to the amount of effort you put in. You just have to open yourself up to the fact that even though you may have got nothing so far, the next shot could be just around the corner.
This particular image of Sarah’s is a great example of this. It was taken last month while we were out on one of our Street Photography Experience Days with another photographer, Peter, and was one of the last shots of the day just as the light was fading. Sarah had gone with the Peter for a walk around the back of Central Pier in Blackpool looking for pictures. I was at the front of the pier shooting something else. She had been on her feet for over eight hours, the light was dropping rapidly, and she was using a Leica rangefinder camera for the first time!! Despite all of this she never lost faith in the next shot being just around the corner, and here it is.
This is the outside of a bar at the end of the pier. The salt covered windows make it difficult to see outside but this young boy’s natural curiosity has lead him to a cleaner part of the window. As he looks out Sarah has taken the image. This is one of three frames, the middle one, the most successful. Shooting with a Leica meant that each of the three frames was considered in its own right – it wasn’t a case of blasting this scene at 14fps in the hope of getting a good one.
Compositionally the image works on several levels. This is the full frame as it came out of camera. The line from the bottom right and the strong upright next to the boy’s face give him strength within the composition. The lines of the tables take the eye around the frame along with the fence. The light is perfect on his face and the salt covered windows take away the distractions of the inside of the bar. The use of the wide angle puts the image into context and the muted, cool colours draw the image back from his warmer flesh tones. Even the blue sign matches the tones of the man’s blue shirt inside the bar.
Aside from the technical points on composition and light, I personally love this image because it says a lot about Blackpool in the early Autumn. The old railings stripped of paint by the battering from the Irish Sea. The salt on the windows which were a consequence of Hurricane Ophelia. The old crutch at the window. The young boy, probably bored, looking for something to do while his parents enjoy a drink.