Thursday, February 20, 2014


(Perth Australia February 2014)

I spent a few hours on the street in Perth a couple of days ago. One type of scene I am always attracted to is couples. Young or old, they speak to me of love, of friendship and of shared times. So it was with this young couple sharing a moment on a mobile phone. Maybe they are looking at photos, sending or reading a text, or just surfing the net. Doesn't matter; the important thing is that I thought it was a nice scene, so I made the photo.

And then, as I often do, I thought I would try another, this time including more foreground leading to the couple on the bench seat. So, I set the lens to wide angle and made another photo, then I moved on.

Later at home I uploaded the photos from the day to my laptop. And here is the second one of this couple:

As you can see there is a longer bit of foreground leading into the photo towards the couple. But, do you notice any other difference? Yes, that's right. In this one the two are kissing and the young woman has her mobile to her ear. And I hadn't even seen this happen when I made the photo; I only noticed it once it was on my laptop screen.

You see, street photography is magic in action. Things happen, often without the photographer seeing them at a conscious level. I suppose on the most mundane and superficial level one could say I was simply in the right place at the right time.

Of course that's true: it was the right place at exactly the right time. But the question is, how did I arrive at that moment and place? Well, without wanting to sound silly about it, it is simply a matter of being there. By this I mean, I strive to be fully present when I am working in the street. I walk or sit and watch, just allowing the scene to unfold before me. And quite often I will somehow "know" something is about to happen without the message reaching my conscious mind that it's about to happen. On those occasions I will "think" I'm making one photograph, whereas in reality I am simply getting ready to make a different one altogether.

Another name for this process is intuition. It's that "knowing" we all experience from time to time when we are in that right place and in that right state of mind, and it all just falls into place. There's no way I could consciously know these two were going to kiss. Besides, as I said, I just allow things to unfold as they do. My job then, is to be ready, willing and open to photograph at that precise moment. Just as I was fortunate enough to do here. Oh, another thing: I try very hard to not be distracted by my conscious mind trying to tell me its version of how things "should be".

And look at the image. It is not only quite a lovely scene of a young couple kissing; it is (or could be) a comment on our modern culture: note the phone at the ear while they are kissing! You know the type of thing: "People just can't put their mobiles down for a second these days".

Now, I know this is not an earth shattering street photograph, but I rather like it. It's a so-called "ordinary moment" shared between two (well actually it's three because the photographer is always a participant in any photograph) people. While, like all moments, it is fleeting and is not likely to be ever remembered again by these two, it has been preserved by my camera (with my help of course!) and can now be shared and enjoyed by many many people pretty much forever (more or less!).

If you define magic as something that inspires awe, then this truly is magic: I am awestruck every time such a thing happens. I have experienced it too often to dismiss it as mere "coincidence" or "random" or "chance" or "luck". It goes deeper than that. And that's really what make is all so very special: a link or connection is made that is difficult to explain on any mundane kind of level, between all the participants in the situation.

So, while it can all be explained away, at least to some point or other, I think I will just finish by saying that when I am fortunate enough to have a moment like this occur, then it most surely is magic!


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