Hang on to your hat!

Early in the film Unfaithful, Diane Lane‘s character does battle with gale force winds in New York City. Whilst this fictional storm is as nothing compared to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, it is enough to cause Miss Lane some problems with her dress (shame!) and ultimately blow her quite literally into falling for Olivier Martinez which is where the trouble begins as she’s married to Richard Gere!

High winds hit Sunderland today so I made for the town centre which was once notorious for its wind tunnel effect, to see what drama may ensue This was never going to provide a Diane Lane type wardrobe malfunction, after all “tracky bottoms” are de rigueur for many of the population, but I thought there might be the odd lost hat or two!

In the end I grabbed a few candids of frustration and desperation, including one guy who seemed to feel the need to hold onto his hair, though he didn’t look much like Wayne Rooney.

Eventually I met John who had the perfect solution to the conditions. His head covering was neither hair nor fabric, yet it was completely weatherproof. It was ink!


In the couple of decades that I’ve lived on the coast I never grow bored of the sea.

In our last house we had a sea view from Megan’s bedroom window, and I could often lose all sense of time staring out across the ever changing waters.  The trouble is I can’t expect that every reader of this blog shares the feeling, or is as captivated by the power of the sea as I am.  Three hundred and sixty five pictures of water might be asking a lot, so I try to vary my topics from things that I’m passionate about, things that I’ve learned, things about photography, the people I meet and so on.

This week I’ve had two ideas for something to write about, each of which I thought would be easily illustrated with photographs, yet it seemed that something in my subconscious was against them for today I spurned a number of opportunities for one, and couldn’t seem to get the other on my radar at all.  Consequently I’d walked for a couple of miles without inspiration.  In my desperation I was starting to see faces in the landscape around me…

My friend Sita likes my ability to portray faces, and regularly compliments me on the portraits that appear here, yet portrait stems from portrayal; a representation of some facet of the subject.  Who says that has to be a face?

I ask the question because as my walk neared it’s end I spotted a Hannah and Adam, a young couple who like me were in the sea’s thrall.  They’re two attractive people so it would be a shame not to share their faces with you, yet for me the portrait that captured them and their relationship was from behind them as they succumbed to the hypnotism before them.

I knew I liked the composition of the shot, but as the sky clouded over the image felt too cold for the emotion evident.  I warmed the colours slightly but still the sea was grey so I resorted to monochrome. still too cold but a little retoning and we have a result (although it was a shame to lose the fabulous redness of Hannah’s hair).  My first portrait of the back of someone’s head but I love it.

Potency.  Potent sea.

2 little pigment

When I set up my website some years ago I chose the name a photogenic world for two reasons; first because my initials are APW, but more importantly because it reflects my belief that there is beauty to be found everywhere if you choose to train your gaze upon it.

While I’m engaged in my portrait a day project the logical conclusion would be that there is beauty to be found in everyone I meet, and while this is true, in the short exchanges of street photography there is little time to explore this so I tend to approach only those where I have already seen a hint of this.

Of course as soon as you apply any sort of filtering you risk becoming exposed to prejudice. I have actively sought to avoid this in terms of age and race, and with some success.  I’m not always successful; yesterday I approached a Muslim mother who with her high cheekbones and near black lips looked like a Wodaabe man in ritual make up.

BBC Human Planet : Wodaabe Gerewol , Niger , A...
BBC Human Planet : Wodaabe Gerewol , Niger , Africa (Photo credit: Generationbass.com)

Great picture I thought.  She thought otherwise.   Dropping her head, she steered her childs buggy away from me, and gathered her toddler closer to her for protection from the demonic photographer!

The American fashion photographer Rick Guidotti has actively challenged prejudice in other areas. In the late 90’s he began photographing those with albinism (a chronic lack of skin pigmentation) and ultimately others whose lives were blighted by physical conditions that made them different.  The fashion shots he took with albino girls raised their self-esteem and were syndicated around the world.  If you can keep up with his rushed delivery there’s a great presentation from him on the TED website which you can link to here.  He went on to found Positive Exposure, an organisation aimed at celebrating difference through photography; changing the attitudes of both subject and viewer in doing so.

I make no such claims about the value of my work, but thinking about pigmentation I noticed one demographic omission from my shots to date. The current vogue for having tattoos has passed me by, and so far even my most rebellious daughter has resisted the temptation (though she seems more partial to piercings).  I’m not a great fan of tattoos, largely due to their permanency – they may look great when new and vibrant on peachy skin or ripped muscles, but in decades to come as the colours fade and the skin stretches, wrinkles and sags… well that’s a different story.

I’ve noticed very little augmented pigmentation in the portraits I’ve taken to date (though there may be plenty that’s not on display I suppose) so is there some subliminal prejudice at work here?  Maybe there is, but it’s easily rectified. Enter Andy to put things right, at least until someone else I know achieves full body coverage!