Winds of change

I talk a lot about change during the training that I deliver.  The way that change is uncomfortable while we adjust to new circumstances, relationships, processes, and structures.  I’ve been the living embodiment of the model I use to describe how we react to feedback, experiencing denial, emotion and justification before reaching the acceptance that heralds readiness for change.  Having travelled that rough road I’m feeling healthier, more relaxed and generally better equipped for the world and the experiences that future has in store.  I’m rediscovering lost pleasures in music and photography; exploring new horizons (Not just Widnes & Bootle!).

I may move away from the sea that has been a constant companion of the last twenty years, but wherever I go I know that new inspiration awaits.

Until I do however, there is still material here.  After all no man steps in the same river twice as Heraclitus said expressing the fact that change is ubiquitous.  Substitute some salt water and the outcome is the same.  Brian Eno‘s Oblique Strategies, as well as containing his take on Heraclitus (Repetition is a form of change) today came up with

Once the search is begun, something will be found.

He’s right of course.  Today then I photographed some familiar subjects; those who ride the winds of change, but today I shared more of their excitement.  I wasn’t the only photographer seeking to do so it seems…

Am I missing something?

In my discussions with students yesterday, the subject of my blog came up and I was asked about how people react to being asked for a photograph.  I replied truthfully about my finding that in general the following rules apply:

  • Men more often than not will agree, and frequently without asking me why I want their photograph
  • Women of other nationalities usually ask what the picture is for and then agree
  • British women are the most reticent.

I’ve tended to assume that the reason for this last category is twofold:

  1. I frequently shoot people when they’re out walking on the beach, when, to their mind, they may not look their best.  Understandable, but why don’t men react similarly?
  2. There may be a degree of caution about a strange man who wants to take your photograph.  I could be a stalker after all!

Yet there must be more to it than this.  This weekend I encountered two young women, Jessie & Laura who were both reluctant to be photographed, yet neither of these reasons could explain their refusal.  Both were beautiful, one whose dark hair provided a frame for the broadest of smiles, the other a slim blue-eyed blond with great bone structure.  Neither was caught unawares or without make-up, and they were in a safe environment where my credentials had been established by the university.

Ironically they were both part of the same team, which emerged as winners of the activity my colleagues and I were running and so were obliged to be part of the team photo at the end.  Even then they each chose to retire to the back row to minimise their presence as you can see above.

I accept that there are some people who just don’t like being photographed, but why does it seem to be disproportionate between the sexes?  I’d be interested in other people’s theories about this, so please leave me a comment below if you have a view to share.

Almost inevitably when I got home this afternoon I went to the beach, approached the first man I spotted and within 30 seconds I had a portrait of Anthony.  QED.


…the first word to occur to me on reaching the beach today.

A word meaning lonely, abandoned, desolate, derelict. Not words that you would normally associate with the seaside in August, but this was a short hiatus between bouts of heavy rain.

The was more than enough to clear humanity from the sands, but also their traces. Softened by the high water content the composition of sandcastles is no longer sufficiently robust to preserve their structure. Like the footprints of their creators they are sublimated into their surroundings.  Messages initially scored deeply into the surface fade from view, replaced by streams of rainwater rushing to blend with the larger, more brackish waters that await them.

It still produces interesting imagery, including some tempting reflections in the lagoon to the north. Of course as I near them the rains return, spattering the surface of the bay and erasing those reflections like a shaken Etch-a-Sketch.

Gloomy stuff but soon lifted by the smile of todays portraits John & Lesley. I recall that earlier in the year I grew tired of photographing hats. I didn’t think I’d still be at it in August!

Weather Report – Forlorn

Flotsam & Jetsam… and Jelly.

I’m on the road today, taxiing my eldest daughter back to the North East from Royal Holloway University in Surrey, so forgive me for writing this yesterday.

The high winds have brought high seas, which means that there is a lot being deposited at the high water mark.

Those helpful people at the RNLI lookout cabin have posted a notice for passers-by to read that warns of two threats to your enjoyment of the beach;  one is that jellyfish are particularly prevalent at the moment, and the other is that there are “weaver fish” (sic) in the area.  Now this is the same beach that I grew up with, paddled in, and occasionally swam in (really, it’s not that warm), and whilst there have always been occasions when the beach has been littered with stranded jellies, I have never encountered a weever fish.

These little beauties bury themselves in the sand and complete their defence with a row of poisonous spines.  The name weever (not weaver) is probably derived from the French word for serpent “wivre” and the sting, which is extremely painful, has been mistaken for a snake bite.

Now when I was small we walked the beach barefoot, so I can only assume that finding weevers here is a recent development.  We did have plastic beach sandals (called jellies because of their construction material, not their purpose) but these were largely reserved for going rock pooling.

The jellyfish too are more plentiful now than they used to be, not just locally, but in all of the waters around the UK.  There are three reasons for this, and directly or indirectly we are to blame for all of them.  The first is the seepage of excess fertilizer from our farms into our watercourses and ultimately into the sea, where the growth of plankton is boosted, providing jellyfish with a plentiful supply of food.

The second reason is down to our overfishing of the same seas.  We have removed the predators that would once have eaten the jellyfish and kept their populations in check.  Finally the climate change resulting from global warming is putting pressure on many species, but the jellyfish seem are thriving because they are more adaptable.

So our beach problems are largely self-inflicted and they don’t end there.  Torness nuclear power plant was forced to shut down when the water intake became blocked with a bloom of jellyfish.  The cleaning operation required them to remove several tonnes of jelly.

This is one of the most remarkable things about the creatures; their composition.  Just as our brains are a mysterious piece of tissue that have no mechanical function to observe with the naked eye, so this entire creature mysteriously lacks the systems we expect to find in animals; respiratory, digestive, central nervous system and so on.  It doesn’t seem to have hampered them as they pulse along, paralysing and then absorbing the nutrients from their prey.

Since I had an old pair of trainers on, I went in search of these creatures at the water’s edge where the only creature deposited was a dead shag. 

Luckily I did find Wilf who became my portrait today.

Postscript – clearly the journey has befuddled my brain; forgetting that I had written this I spotted Dave, his features sculpted by an overhead light at Woodall Services on the way back home.  Be a shame not to include him too!