It’s this interaction of eye contact, and body language that fascinates me. In bars we are all watching each other, you wonder what the story is, what’s the narrative? You look for the clues. You are inches away from finding out, this isn’t the street, it’s a bar, talking to strangers is acceptable.
In the ‘A girl in Bruges’, there’s a man in her life, you can just see the edge of him on the left hand side. He hasn’t got her undivided attention has he? My wife said perhaps he’s a photographer – cruel.
But what is going through her mind? And look at those long elegant fingers. The girl behind her getting ready to leave also echoes the expressive nature of the hands. Maybe these are the hands of a musician – or a dancer? People I’ve shown this photograph to have different ideas about her relationship to the man opposite and her possible occupation. What is certain is, everyone loves to speculate, to have an opinion, this is what we spend our life doing; wondering about the people around us.
We had an inspirational teacher of photography at Hull College of Art, I’m still trying to track him down – Clee Rimmer – just to say thanks.
I’ve stared to dust off my old college negatives, they’ve improved with age.
I remember going out to do Street Photography in Hull, trying to be Don McCullin or Cartier Bresson, and coming back to the college to develop the negs only to be massively disappointed. They were ordinary, pedestrian, boring.
I talked to a pal from the same course and he said he felt exactly the same way – he almost binned his.
When you look at old prints it’s a shock to see just how much has gone and what has changed. They have a fascination and intrigue – intrigue if only because you wonder ‘how did those people’s lives spin out?’
What’s the advice here, go out and photograph everything in the street, because no matter how mundane, predictable or ordinary it is, one day it will have value. You could try that I suppose, it does mean you hope to be still with us at the end of a few decades.