Standing having a cuppa by my front window a couple of days ago I noticed an elderly man stood astride a bicycle next to my front gate. I’m not normally a curtain twitcher but this chap had a camera slung around his neck, and that immediately aroused my interest.
We have read that councils are sending people out to assess properties to see if any improvements have been made and to photograph them to have concrete evidence before they put your community charges up to even more astronomical heights. I was ready to rush out and confront him if he pointed the camera at my humble abode.
However he seemed more interested in looking down the road at something that had caught his attention. That puzzled me even more. Having lived in the road for some 11 years I couldn’t see what would be of interest to anyone. Where he was looking was just an ordinary road with a slight bend to the right and another road joining it from the left some 30 yards away. The houses are just houses with no particular unusual architectural features, in fact just an ordinary suburban road.
He then began looking up at the sun which at that time of day was fairly high in the sky and shining over his right shoulder and glancing at his watch. He occasionally raised his camera up to his eye but didn’t appear to fire the shutter.
I’m sure there are people who would be able to look at his camera and immediately identify it, quoting make, model and mark even at the thirty paces he was away from me. The camera in question was an SLR, whether it was a DSLR I couldn’t say and it had a medium length lens attached.
He stood there for some 10-20 minutes still looking up at the sun from time to time and squinting through the viewfinder every now and then without pressing the shutter button.
We live on a bus route and there are about two buses an hour that come along the road. Suddenly the photographer sprang into action and raised his camera up to his eye. Now I couldn’t see the oncoming bus until it almost reached our house but its appearance coming around the corner galvanised the mysterious photographer into action and he pressed the shutter. Immediately after the bus had passed he got on his bike and left.
Now, as photographers we all see things differently to one another, or hopefully so. What had this chap seen that was different to what I would see looking down our road? What would he see differently to me with a bus coming up our road?
I’ve been out to my gate and looked down the road several times now to try and see what our photographer friend saw but with no success. It’s worrying my wife, she thinks I’m waiting for the postman to deliver a new and expensive bit of gear that I don’t want her to know about!
I’ve come to the conclusion that he works for the bus company and was spying on the driver to see if he was keeping to the timetable.
The point I’m trying to make is we all see things that excite us but leave other people cold.
I think I’ll call it the Martin Parr effect!