Photos & Thoughts – August 2023

From Toby Jugs to Vibrators

A woman standing in front of a car with a table full of items.

Late summer, 6am. A field in England. Scavengers arrive like vultures to pick over the discarded fragments of someone’s life.

“Got any gold or silver jewellery?”, “What about mobile phones or computer parts?”

Welcome to a Bank Holiday car boot sale.

To the uninitiated those first few minutes can be terrifying. No time to put up your folding table and arrange your old paperbacks, toby jugs, and assorted knickknacks before the horde has rifled through and moved on.

For the less dedicated of course, the event starts at a more civilised 8am. By this time, the gold and silver has already been snapped up and resold at a premium. We’re now at the stage of outgrown children’s clothes, DVDs, VHS tapes, and assorted ornaments. For those of more artistic leanings, it might even be possible to pick up an original Wings of Love or Gypsy Girl painting.

A man in a lawn chair talking on a cell phone.

Despite eBay, car boot sales still have their place for those things you never knew you needed. They might have lost the edgy, subversive appeal of some years ago, when security would turn a blind eye to the pirate CDs and computer software in return for duty free cigs and a copy of Microsoft Office ’97.

It’s fascinating to see what people want rid of, and even more intriguing why they bought it in the first place. Surely there is a limit to unwanted Christmas gifts. Pride of place must go to a vibrator (good condition, complete with box) spotted on a car boot in Wetherby some years ago. The fact that it was missing when we passed by a second time indicated someone had purchased it. Hopefully their new (used?) purchase will have given them several minutes of satisfaction.

From a photography perspective, there’s no shortage of subjects, but unfortunately, no shortage of suspicion. Perhaps the Department of Work Pensions really do get up early on bank holidays, so no wonder that people are on their guard.

By 11 o’clock only the diehards remain, still rummaging through old knitting patterns and Cliff Richard LPs. 

So, all back next holiday to see the same items recycled yet again and still the forlorn hope that someone doesn’t know that a Leica is worth more than a fiver.

A man with a big belly standing next to a car.

Writer’s block/Photographer’s block

A very quiet month, not many pictures and even fewer words. I’m supposed to have two books in the works, but they seem to have stalled at a lot of chapter titles. I think part of the lethargy comes from not knowing whether anyone will be interested in reading them. The After the Coal Dust book did ok but printing costs have risen considerably and I’m not sure if people have the money to buy photo books by a relative unknown. I’m not really into ‘vanity’ projects just for the sake of it. One of the books will be more text based, so there’s probably even less interest in that. I’ve some good titles though 😉

Maybe they’ll languish in the archives with my novel from twenty years ago (“too depressing for the mass market”).

Taking good pictures gets harder the more pictures you already have. Back when I’d only a dozen pictures I was satisfied with, there was only a dozen pictures to judge against. Now, there are many more. It’s quite depressing to think that your best work could well be behind you. I’ll look on it as a challenge.

The other problem in August is that it’s the school holidays so everywhere is very busy and full of kids. Children and photographers can be problematic mix.
Despite being a ‘street photographer’ (according to my website at least) I don’t particularly like crowds. This is probably because I don’t really like people! We even gave the West Indian carnival in Leeds a miss this year, even though it’s a favourite of ours. So here’s one or two photos from previous years.

(Anti-)Social Media

My flirtation with Threads and Vero has stalled and although I’m still posting on Facebook and Instagram, I have cut back a bit. I did make the mistake of posting a cat picture on FB recently. The powers that be now seem to think that I’m interested in every cat related group on the internet.

A black and white photo of a cat walking down a cobbled street.

Over the years I’ve been added to many groups on Facebook but I’m now only active in one or two. I left another one recently after my infamous ‘Lycra Man’ picture made a reappearance. The photo was pretty well received, but as usual, the comments descended into argument and abuse. It goes with the territory on social media, of course, but it does get very tiresome. I no longer feel I have to defend my photos, but I don’t want them to be the catalyst for people to attack each other. I’m all for debate, but it’s the quality of the debate that is the problem.

A man is walking down the street.

Part of the problem, I feel, is that we are judged on a single photo rather than a body of work. So a photo of an overweight person is ‘fat-shaming’, a single photo of a rough sleeper and you become ‘an exploiter’. And of course, on the internet everyone is the ultimate guardian of morality.

New Stuff

Even in quiet months there’s usually a few photo opportunities so here a few taken over the past few weeks.

Magazine Feature

I had a 12 page feature in the German photography magazine “Le Magazine” – the 2023 Special Edition should be available next month.

2 thoughts on “Photos & Thoughts – August 2023”

  1. Richard Tierney

    Don’t despair John and don’t give up. There are lots and lots of people still following you avidly. The latest stuff is good, some crackers. Really glad Lycra Man surfaced again! 🙂

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