Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Weather, geography, culture, street photography

The weather is pissing me off quite a bit. Not that I'd do anything better than sitting in a cafe and writing, but oh my, this is a bit too unpredictable. About five minutes ago it was almost sunny (although raining) and now it's murky and grey again. This morning it was sunny for a bit. This is a very common trick of the British weather for getting you out of home without an umbrella. It sort of enjoys watching people get back from work absolutely soaked. This afternoon, when I went to the shower there was a thunderstorm. There I was, washing my hear listening to the thunder. I got out of the shower and it was sunny. But raining, of course. Back in the day, before coming to the UK seeing rain while the sun was shining was sort of an exceptional happening. "Wow, look, how is it possible?" Now, well, it's just another state of the day. For the last two weeks it has been raining every day, not as badly yesterday, when it only started in the afternoon and carried till today. But a few days ago it was just rain and rain and rain. We have worse weather than Canada! They at least have "dry" summers! Damn.

Being in this kind of enviroment I always wonder how there can be so many British (or Britain-based) street photographers. It doesn't make any sense. They should be doing something like pub photography, or cosy home-by-the-stove photography, but no, they sort of run out on those twenty sunny days a year and shoot the hell out of it. I thought it might be that English excentricity, but then I realize that Tom Wood is Irish (although based in Liverpool):



At least Martin Parr took full advantage of the highlights of our weather in his book "Bad Weather":



But god, what kind of a self-lacerating geek you have to be to do such a thing? It had to be Parr, who always turns all the odds in his advantage, who came up with such a book.

Anyhow, things are not a lot better in the rest of the world. In northern and central Europe the weather is just a bit better than over here, so yeah, strolls are perfectly possible, but you rather maybe move outside the city and chill out a bit? In the south we mostly lack the idea of purposefully going out to the street to catch some glimpses of reality. This seems to be changing (check for example the Italian fotografi di strada flickr group), and although the laws -as in France- do not rule in favour of the photographers, these seem to be the perfect lands to shoot. On the other hand, in the United States only a few spots seem to be good for walking around and shooting while doing so (NYC, e.g.). There seems to be a lot of empty space and people in cars. Boring. Plus you can be stopped for crossing a street. They even call such an event jaywalking.

Maybe time to move to Japan.

2 comments:

K. Praslowicz said...

Twice in the last few weeks I found myself out shooting when a downpour rolled in. In each instance I used it and just kept going. Haven't developed any of those rolls yet, but am really excited to see the results I got of the poor other people out trapped in it.

If they turn out, I'm vowing to spend more time out shooting when it is raining or blizzarding.

Paul Russell said...

Cagoules are the way forward.