So this weekend I went to Brighton with my girlfriend as part of her 21st birthday celebrations. It was a great weekend with lots of lovely moments to remember. Thanks mainly to the Brighton sea life centre which, although small, is very much worth a visit.
India definitely seemed to enjoy herself, getting very visibly absorbed by tanks meant for the more easily captivated young minds. Though having said that, after I took the photograph you see below, I of course found myself doing the exact same thing.
However, all the tourist saturated amusements and fancies we enjoyed aren't what seem to be lingering in my mind 24 hours later. After a very enjoyable trip to the aquarium (as I have said already) we found ourselves out by 12:30. We had a 3 and a half hour gap to fill before the starlings where due to show by the pier at sunset. So naturally, we meandered through the city's backstreets and lanes looking for a coffee shop, taking far too much joy in judging most not to be suitable. After quenching our thirst for self-indulgence we wandered the lanes once more with a quest for material things to remember our day by or maybe to prove to ourselves a good time was had. There seems to be no logical reason for this. Maybe its just habit. Having said that, India did get a lovely dress, and I found myself some very effective fingerless gloves which I plan to use for cold weather photography !
I digress. The thing that stuck in my head was that despite the colour culture and commerce going on all around I couldn't notice people that seemed to be sat in the shadows. I had always wanted to try street photography but with my prominent dislike for city's and very British need to avoid offending people I had never really tried it.
This particular individual caught my eye. They sat very noticeably between two lengths of fairly affluent shops. Anyone could have seen them, but nobody did. I like to think that this is the purpose of street photography, not that I claim to know anything about that particular subject. Instead of sneaking in a silently disruptive snap I decided to simply ask. I got out a pound coin from my wallet and walked gingerly over (still worried I may cause offence or upset). I gently dropped the coin into the polystyrene cup stood hopefully out in front of them. As it fell I caught the persons eyes catch the glint of the coin as it fell.
I asked if I could take their photo, to which their reply seemed almost apologetic. This is what truly sticks in my mind. Before I had gotten a word out I had been thanked sincerely and been given a true smile. They told me that they didn't like their face in photo's. Understandable. I said ok "no worries", smiled and turned to leave. But I was stopped. The person had gotten what they wished for and had nothing to give back but seemed so eager to. They suggested pulling their balaclava up their face a little further over their nose so that just their eyes were showing. I replied somewhat surprised "of course". I stepped away to take the photograph as they added "I'm sorry mate, are you sure that's ok".
As I started to take the photograph, a sea of people flowed past, nobody stopped to let me take the photo. The individual laughed and told me I would be in for a long wait. I realised that this was someone used to not being noticed. Yet they were still laughing. They still saw the funny side. A few more seconds went past (and a lot more people) and I got the shot you see below.
The more I look at this image the more I think about that Pound coin. 2 or 3 had just satisfied my sweet tooth. Another 10 had just bought be two and a half hours entertainment. Five had allowed me to leave my car where I wanted to. Four had bought me a pair of gloves that would basically do a worse job of keeping my hands warm than my current ones.
It made me think. How much of the stuff we need, do we actually need? When just one pound seemed to make someone so happy and grateful that they were willing to allow me to do something that they clearly made them very uncomfortable.
Please don't misunderstand me. I am never usually the sort to preach. I am still only 23 years old.
I believe that there are certain moments that happen in life that shape who you become. This photograph for me is that just one of my moments captured. I am sorry if I have bought anyone down before you go to bed. But no matter how hard a time any of us may be going through, I think we must realise it could always be worse and there is always a funny side.
Next time I promise more pretty birds and animals.