GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING – This is going to be a long post. 🙂
. . . If the truth be known, I’ve never felt as mentally and physically exhausted after a day’s Street Photography as I did just last weekend in Manchester. Mind you, I probably didn’t do myself any favours by spending the previous day shooting on the streets of Chester and on both occasions wearing what are without doubt the most uncomfortable pair of boots I’ve ever owned. 🙂
The plan was simple. Spend the first day in Manchester shooting the Leica M2 in the morning and the Fuji X-E1 in the afternoon. Then repeat the same in Chester the following day. Predictably though and despite this being our summer time AND the weatherman promising sunshine, it was raining with that all too familiar British drizzle. Good job I chose to shoot the M2 first as I wouldn’t trust a fully electronic camera in the wet.
What immediately struck me whilst walking out of Manchester Piccadilly Station was that despite the continual shower, the streets were VERY busy. For sure, at one point I could have sworn the pavement disappeared. Trying to pick out interesting characters in this crowded and wet environment was going to be a challenge.
In this situation it was helpful to have a camera that didn’t mind getting it’s ‘feet’ wet and also be able to carry it between shots under the shoulder bag at my side for protection. Strangely though, such was the excellent time I was already having taking pictures, the rain became a minor irritation.
Thankfully after an hour or so, the rain stopped and I could now carry the camera ‘out front’ and partially raised in my usual position, ready to shoot. Also as a result of the dryer weather, more folk appeared and I could now move more freely amongst the flowing crowds.
By now I’d spent some time meandering the main High Street and decided to take a look around the surrounding roads and avenues. It’s amazing how the appearance of buildings and shops can change in the distance of just one block.
Throughout my wonderings I was pleased to see that ‘Street Art’ was not only widespread but positively encouraged, adding a much needed burst of color and culture to some of the less prosperous areas.
Yes, despite massive investment over recent years, there are still huge areas of the city that receive little to no attention.
The defining line between the ‘haves and have nots’ is clear to be seen, though seeming to co-exist at the same time.
As a country boy, the sight of many differing cultures, religions and races living together in one area is at once both alien and a breath of fresh air for me. In the countryside Multiculturalism just doesn’t exist and is one of the ‘forces’ that drives me to visit towns and cities.
City life never ceases to throw up the kind of surprises you wouldn’t find down a country lane. 🙂
Of course the other thing you won’t find in the countryside are coffee shops and that’s where I headed as it was time to rest, count the blisters on my feet and switch cameras to the X-E1 with XF35 lens.
Half an hour later (and slightly less sore), the sun had got it’s hat on and the ground was drying. As I walked out of the cafe, this guy strolled by sporting a full head of tattoos. However, the young lady in the window didn’t seem to approve?
Manchester was beginning to come to life, with street sellers peddling all manner of goods, including ‘little people’.
With the sheer number of folk coming from all directions, it’s a constant battle to keep from bumping into one another. It helps to have the patience of a saint.
Also apparent was the modern fascination with tattoos. Whilst I’ve never fancied the idea of being permanently scarred for life, I do admire the artwork itself.
If you look close enough, there are many who wear one as a piece of jewellery, like a modern day ankle bracelet.
Now we’ve arrived at that point in the blog where there are many more pictures to show but I’ve run out of things to say. 🙂 So here are the remaining pictures, with a few words of what I like about each one.
This picture makes me think of an ‘eternal triangle’. The guy on the bike is in focus and the main element of the picture. He is looking at the young lady who’s just entered shot. She is in turn looking at me and I’m looking at the guy on the bike and . . .
At first glance the young lady on the left is destitute and the other lady is listening to her plight. In fact, they are two people out shopping.
I’ve always liked pictures of old alleys full of various bric-a-brac, or as the sign says “This & That”.
A rare shot of Clark Kent letting his ‘cover’ slip.
Just my tribute to the late, great Frank Sidebottom. R.I.P.
A close-up side profile of three distinct faces, weathered with the passage of life, experiences and time, as they enjoy the spectacle of a ‘levitating monk’.
Two pictures together here. The sun eventually took control of the day and later on it became pleasantly warm. For some it was bliss . . .
. . . And for others, it was time to relax in the shade.
I always keep an eye out for the more ecentrically dressed individuals and this ‘old gentlemans’ style contrasted so well alongside his more modestly dressed (I assume) son.
Another two pictures that go together. This one was taken in a side street that runs next to the main High Street. I still can’t believe this is happening so close to a prosperous shopping area with many upmarket establishments raking in the cash. 😦
And that it actually happens in the more affluent areas as well. For me it is a stark reminder that for many, this situation is just 3 or 4 months ‘missed paychecks’ away.
Another favorite genre of mine, ‘Old Shops’ and taken not far from the previous two photos.
Tattoos again and it was the artwork I was interested in, then this guy appeared at the door. Click !!!
Talking of Tattoos. If you’d like to get one this place could be just the ticket . . . and then the business next door will remove it for you. 😀
And finally . . . I like the symmetry of the two outer pensioners looking in opposite directions and the centre one appearing as though she is about to ask a question. Uhmmm . . .
Manchester was great. Within a radius of some two miles I was able to capture a ‘taster’ of what the city is about. The genre of Street Photography for me isn’t just about capturing close-up shots of people in candid situations. Rather, it is always my intention to show their environments and the lives they lead.
There is far more to discover and photograph in Manchester, but to do so will require many more visits.
Next time though I’ll be sure to take a more comfortable pair of shoes. 🙂