I’ve decided to start writing up a weekly account of my journeys through the world of Sunday Morning Sales and this is the second entry.
After an almost disastrous week last time out (see this post, explaining how I failed to find the place), this week was a little more eventful. But then how could it now?
First up was the start of the Hope Valley car boot sale of the year, second was the first for Lady manners School and finally down to Bakewell show-ground, which in recent weeks has become one of my favourites.
Hope Valley car boot sale alternates between two different sites. This means that half the time it’s a fantastic venue, literally situated in the middle of a valley. It’s very difficult not to be inspired by the place, which come to think of it, is very similar to the Bakewell show-ground. But for the alternating weeks Hope is situated on a school field that isn’t dissimilar to Lady Manners School, which like the other two venues is set in the beautiful peak district and tends to bring a different set of people out in comparison to the inner city offerings.
On the whole these venues are very laid back and lack any real hustle and bustle which could go as far as explaining why I’m always finding people I know from my own neck of the woods frequenting them. At times I’ve found it hard not to bump into someone I know (or even a relative) as I head out into the countryside on a Sunday morning.
All these venues are very picturesque, so it’s hard not to draw inspiration from traditional landscape paintings of the area of rolling hills and livestock going about their business in fields below.
These sort of natural scenes are what I’ve been aiming for with a portion of my images, trying to capture people in the environments, lost in the moments and not being alerted too much to my presence as a photographer.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, and of the hundreds of photographs I’ve taken, only two people have ever reacted negatively to my presence. Most of the time there’s some level of acceptance, a nod, a smile, a cheeky wink or warming hello. But with one subject this week, I didn’t get that; I got the former, a rather aggressive quizzing into why I was photographing him.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” bellowed out after the click of the shutter sounded. Well apart from having completely misjudged a moment of acceptance, I was actually trying to document a tranquil scene of this seller, laid in the boot of his car, goods laid out on the floor and table in front of him on a lovely sunny morning.
I approached him and explained about the project and a little about myself, but it if I’m honest it did catch me off guard. Judging by his reaction, the least I could offer I offer was a guarantee that I wouldn’t use the image. And with it the situation seemed to be averted, but it did make me think about how I would have dealt with this sort of thing at the beginning of the project.
Since the early days of the work I feel I’ve became more comfortable in what I do, and I generally understood the work more. Plus I think I’ve certainly become more articulate and better in explaining what the heck it is that I do.
Like I said, these instances are few and far between, this being the second in over a year, but what I can’t get over – and this is the main reason I’m writing this post – is that laid on the floor right there for everyone to see (and purchase) were photos used photo frames still containing photos of his family, used school uniforms that blatantly show where his children study, and details of just about every single hobby the chap had ever attempted to pursue.
I found it strange to say the least! Strange that a boundary was brought about through a camera, through the documenting of his image and not from the little pieces of his life presented in front of me, all of which was available for me to walk away with for a matter of a few quid.
Little things like this make me reconsider my approach to the work. Maybe I should be photographing with a small point and shoot camera? Something the subject is more familiar with? Then there could be one less boundary between the subjects and myself? Or maybe I should concentrate on more collaborative efforts between the sellers and myself?
Regardless, I have been considering for the latter for a while, so I’ll use this incident as a gentle reminder, and Ill definitely be doing more collaborative portraits in the coming weeks, both of the sellers and the buyers.