On Market Street

Sometimes, things just don’t seem to be working for you: there’s a lack of inspiration, or you’re just not clicking (sorry) with the world around you, and you think that it’s going to be a bit of a wasted day

Case in point: I was walking around Manchester with a group of about a dozen photographers, but I was having trouble finding ‘the shot’. Oh, I got a few here and there, but the juices weren’t really flowing, it was an effort to see the images, to say something that I felt was worth saying.

It’s like the way I’ll sometimes go to my music collection and not be able to choose something to listen to. All those albums and…

But there’s an album I can always put on in this circumstance, one that is just so good in every way that I’m never ‘not in the mood’.

So it can be with photography. Things not working? Go to the fallback; and for me, the fallback is people. Stop looking for the image elsewhere, stop pushing the shutter for a while and watch the people: the group you’re with, the shoppers and commuters and tourists around you. Endlessly fascinating, a million stories hiding behind a million faces. (OK, the population of Manchester is less than a million, but you know what I mean.)

So I carried on the walk looking at people, watching for the small, unconscious expressions that betray the internal monologue, observing the way they interact with each other. trying to balance a genuine caring for the lives of others against what could descend into prurient voyeurism.

And it came together on Market Street, as I could have predicted it would. That bustling, always hectic street, full of dogged shoppers and noisy street sellers. The heart of a city; its soul you might say.

So, in the five minutes it took to walk up Market Street, I got more pictures that I was pleased with than in the other three hours. My Olympus OM-D comes into its own here; it’s small and unobtrusive and, with the rear screen angled upwards, I can shoot from waist level, but still see the image I’m about to get.

Here they are. And yes, I know that the grainy black and white treatment is a bit clichéd, so I’ve put a colour treatment of one of them up the top there, just for the variety.


Fire and Water by Free, since you ask.