Having a job in the City this morning I joined them and pondered about why they were doing it. Taking a photo of a tall building surrounded by other tall buildings from the ground is difficult: the angle required distorts their dimensions and it can be practically impossible to get them all in from so close. Yet the motivation is harder for me to work out. Why try and photograph such endlessly reproduced objects, especially as your own effort will most likely be inferior?
It reminded me of being in the Louvre, of the scrum around the Mona Lisa that makes the contemplation of such an important work of art impossible. I would wager that less than 10% of those engaged in the fight for Their Own Personal Shot of the work have any idea why it's important in the history of art, or indeed what sfumato means. They don't care that the Mona Lisa is the most reproduced image ever, and that their photo Will be worse. Some of them don't even care that their flashes are destroying the artworks around them, and that we all have to enjoy the painting more obliquely, through a glass darkly, to stop their flashes ruining this priceless work - these people will be denied the use of their eyes when my Aesthetic Justice vigilante group catches up with them.
There seems to be a transition from people telling people about their experience of something - their subjective interpretation - to just offering up the brute objective facts. Why describe how the Mona Lisa made you feel, which is hard, when you can just upload a photo to facebook and prove you 'experienced' it.
In my opinion photos should be triggers to stories, and if you're taking a photo of something that everyone's seen then try to find a fresh angle. If there is any tenuous theme to this blog or website it is to try and consider things slightly differently and not just take them at face value. With this in mind we come to the two photos I took this morning.
I can't make any great claims for them - the sky was washed out and I only had my mobile phone, which made zooming impossible - but I like to think of them as preparatory sketches for shots I might take later. My attention was immediately drawn to the balloons in the tree: I wondered how they got there and what they were doing in such an austere place, though I liked their slightly deflated aspect. Whilst trying to get a good shot of them I then came to enjoy how the famous external air vents of the Lloyd's building reflected in the curved surface of the building opposite. I also liked how the red of the bus mirrored the balloons in the second picture, splashes of colour in a sea of grey and green.
They're not wonderful shots, but I thought I'd share them because it gave me excuse to explore the issue, and also because I'm pretty sure no-one has taken a photo quite like them - at least not one you can google in 10 seconds! Perhaps if the weather's right next weekend I'll go and take some proper photos. I can't imagine the balloons lasting long. Their very ephemerality is part of what attracted me to them.