In the last fortnight I’ve made three photography trips. One to a World War 2 reenactment on a steam railway, one to Portsmouth and one to Southampton. None of these,if I’m honest, were my natural choice of venue. However, I’m a firm believer that it is often the least immediately appealing venues that generate some of the most interesting images.
The first trip was to the Watercress Line, a privately owned and managed steam railway in Hampshire. It is named after the Watercress that grows around Alresford.
This weekend they were celebrating ‘WW2 on the Line’ and it was an excuse for everyone to raid their dressing up box, pull out their uniforms and 40’s clothes and have fun. Add to that the vintage car and bike collectors and a very special time was on the cards.
What I loved was the sheer joy in the faces of those taking part, from the Girl Guides being taught the Jitterbug, to the hairdresser doing 40’s hair styles,the Glenn Miller Tribute band and the ‘Yank’ doughnuts or should that be donuts.
A week later, I joined a MeetUp group called ‘Hampshire Social Snappers’ in Portsmouth. We walked in blazing heat from Southsea Pier to Portsmouth. It was the archetypal, British seaside hell complete with large tattooed women eating chips, lonely fairground rides and hundreds of hot people eating ice cream. The light was a bit harsh but there were a few images along the way. We ended the walk opposite the Spinnaker Tower and near Ben Ainslie’s BAR HQ which was looking a bit deserted after their recent America’s Cup exit.
The final trip was with Lymington Camera Club. The initial purpose was to do a Street Photography workshop with members. We had a decent turn out but while I expected the main shopping area of Southampton to be teeming with a rich and varied pageant of human life it was rather mundane. Just tired and stressed people trying to get home. However, in the distance we heard the revving of hundreds of motor bikes and our luck had changed. The Southampton Biker Night was in full swing (every Thursday in the summer 6-8)
Over 600 bikes turned up for Ladies Day in honour of Ascot and what a funny, friendly bunch they were. I grew up when bikers were synonymous with Hells Angels but times have changes. These folks might still sport the odd tattoo, goatee and earring but they were so welcoming to us. The marshals helped us get shots and the bikers themselves were delighted to be photographed with their bikes.
So what did I get from these three trips? The key lesson for me is that you should always step out of your comfort zone photographically. I’m not a environmental portrait shooter by instinct but my tip is when you see a tattooed biker with an earring stop him and take his photograph….. but remember to ask nicely first 🙂