Thursday, 3 March 2011

Assignment Two: Why choose this subject?

(Firstly, I have had something of a delay in proceedings over the last week or so.  This is partly down to a virus that has been working its way around our family, including me, but latterly down to another health related issue within our business.  One of my two business partners has been ill this week and I have been supporting activity on his assignments – so virtually no time for OCA work, alas.)
One thing that I have been giving some thought is ‘Why am I interested in photographing people eating in a public place for Assignment Two?’  I think it’s always helpful to have a clear view of one’s motivation and purpose in something like this.
The first thing to say is that this is a very common phenomenon of street/public space in any modern town or city in 21st century Britain, and as such, it must be worth recording.  As summarised in my previous post, it doesn’t seem to have had its just share of attention and so that in itself is a good reason to explore it further.  Initial observations confirm, also, that it is an activity practised by a wide range of people – all ages, genders, etc – and all of those will ‘do it in the same space at the same time’ on occasions!
I have also observed in the previous post that photographers have tended to record this activity in a negative light.  That could be perfectly reasonable – it has its negative connotations e.g. litter and discarded, uneaten food; an association with fast, junk food; the fact that stuffing a hot dog, or even an M&S baguette, into your mouth whilst walking down the street, doesn’t usually look too attractive!  But it would also be interesting to try and explore some more positive (or less negative) aspects – because I think they exist – socialising in the ‘fresh’ air in a public space; the chance to be ‘in public’ but retain some isolation and personal space; it’s inexpensive and quick; it’s flexible and convenient in a busy, modern world; there is (and this is a value judgement, I recognise) something quite ‘democratic’ about all sorts of people sitting out in the open sharing an activity.
So, another reason for exploring the issue might be to try and give it a more balanced presentation than it has had from photographers in the past.  That also gives a pointer to the types of image that I might want to create – try and make some ‘attractive’ pictures of people eating in a public place.

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