Coincidence or Something Subliminal?

Having photographed a number of waves yesterday, and chosen a surfer for my portrait I wanted an appropriate title.  Soft Cell‘s “Say Hello and Wave Goodbye” was playing on my mind for some time, but even the most tenuous links to my pictures weren’t happening for me, so I ended up with a song by Sting against my better judgement.  To be fair, I do love the Dream of the Blue Turtles, probably because the band he assembled included a shipload of jazz talent including Omar Hakim, Kenny Kirkland and the incredibly lyrical saxophonist Branford MarsalisLove is the Seventh Wave provided my inspiration; appropriate as there is an urban myth amongst surfers that the 7th wave is always better than the six that precede it.

Anyway, I digress.  Earlier in the day before deciding on my wave theme I had an idea that shooting people candidly at bus stops might be interesting.  Waiting for buses requires people to find a way of passing the time or engaging in polite, and perhaps unwanted, conversation with someone else in the queue.  Either might produce some interesting expressions or movement.

I shot a few odds and ends but was saving myself for the bus station thinking that I would find a wealth of material there.  It proved otherwise, the waiting areas just weren’t conducive to my needs, but the same harsh light that has been around this week was cutting a swathe through an opening in the side of the building.  I was reminded of another image by Trent Parke from his Dream/Life series, and whilst there wasn’t enough darkness around to replicate the full effect with a wide shot, I was able to frame a couple of passers-by who were dressed in light clothing against a darker background to get the effect shown here.

In each case though I think they needed a mass of normally exposed people around them to give them the truly surreal effect.  As it is they look a lot like mistakes so I gave the idea no more thought.  (This the second time I’ve failed to replicate his work!)

So back to the 7th Wave, and having chosen that option I googled it to remind myself more of the thinking behind the theory, and was vaguely aware that the images option seemed to consist largely of underwater shots of people in turbulent water.  I thought no more of it until this evening when I was researching Mr Parke once more.  There were the same images, from a collection entitled… The Seventh Wave.  How spooky is that?

I went out the following day to shoot my portrait, which is of John, with no attempt to emulate Parke.  I wanted to find someone at a bus stop but bumped into John just beside one (that counts doesn’t it?) and knew I wanted to photograph him.   I’m normally not a fan of spot colour, but when I realised that he would be my entry for 11th November it seemed the right thing to do.

Very Scottish Widows!*

In Newcastle today to drop some images off for a client, so I just had enough time to stop in town to give today’s imagery a different backdrop.  With only 20 minutes or so to spare I made for Grey’s Monument, knowing it to be a good location to scout for people to shoot.

It was already wet when I arrived, a fine drizzle that didn’t concern me too much to begin with, but soon developed into a heavier mix of sleet and rain.  Those with sense sought shelter indoors or under hoods and brollies.  This bizarrely dressed promo-girl wore a flag on her back which seemed strangely prescient.

I hunted for an overhanging roof that would allow me to stay outside without risking my camera to the wet stuff.  Whilst initially I wondered if the conditions would allow me to capture something akin to Magnum photographer Trent Parke‘s fantastically backlit shot of pouring rain there was neither the deluge or the light required.  A pity, since there would have been a nice symmetry to recreating an image made by a man born in a different Newcastle.

Instead I found that my new vantage point gave me the opportunity to shoot some slow shutter speed images of the scattering of people that the rain triggered.The wet pavements also provided some great reflections so I took advantage of these and composed a shot with the monument at the heart of it, and then waited for the configuration of passing traffic to complete the composition.  Almost immediately I abandoned this when this mod arrived on his Vespa.  I considered him as today’s portrait but he was more Bradley Walsh than Bradley Wiggins, so I passed on the chance.

Not long afterwards I was doubly rewarded for my patience.  A single pedestrian walking my way completed the composition of the shot I wanted, her outline, elongated by the mirroring of the wet flagstones, echoing the verticality of the stone column whilst her umbrella did the same for the nearby dome.  Result #1 in the bag, but no portrait as yet.Time was up though so I abandoned my dry niche to head back to my car.  Sticking close to the wall and the protection it offered I had an astonishing piece of luck when a young woman in another doorway peered round the corner to see if the rain was abating.  The wet marble facade provided me with a slight reflection, and the coat over her head provided shadow to sculpt her beautiful face.  I wasted no time in asking her to recreate the pose and thankfully Laura agreed, because I love the result.

*Serendipitous trivia; the new Bond film, Skyfall, is released today.  What has that got to do with the shot?  The first woman to front the ad campaigns for the insurance company in the iconic black cloak was Deborah Moore, daughter of Roger Moore in a commercial directed by David Bailey!