“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind
I have always had an ambivalent attitude to photographs of me. For many years the only one I liked was one of me in the bath aged about 6 months, looking very happy and about to launch the rubber duck I was holding across the room. Time moved on and I became more aware of the camera, ever more self conscious. I hated having my picture taken.
On the other hand I came to love taking photographs. It was on a baking hot July day in 1989 that I bought my first SLR camera, a Minolta and, for £30 they threw in a robust , but low tech, East German (the GDR still existed then) Praktica. As they explained to me, the Praktica would be a good learning camera because all the settings were manual, aperture, shutter speed and so on. This was a camera that made you think what you were doing and, through thinking, learn,
One day I will get round to cataloguing the several boxes full of photographs I have in my attic and, maybe, digitising the best of them. From memory the best photographs include some Dudley canal scenes shot in black and white, and a whole series I took on holiday in Madrid where the August light somehow made it impossible to take bad photographs,
And these photographs are precious memories, they are part of me. To look at street scenes from 30 years ago is a journey back in time, and, as a writer, I find myself drawn to the people captured by accident in my pictures, people who I never spoke to, pepe who probably never saw me. I think about them, give them biographies, names, destinies. They are a resource. Some may already have appeared in my stories.
And what about photographs of me? Well, I did a kink photoshoot in a local dungeon back in 2015 which was, well, underwhelming. I was still not massively confident in from of the camera and, besides, still had quite a bit of weight to use. Then, in July 2019 I had the opportunity to do a photoshoot with the lovely Exposing 40. One warm Sunday afternoon I posted for some 50 photographs in her flat. There were shots with a kink twist, shots without, but all were shots that showcased my body, some of them explicit. I posted one on this blog here.
I loved the pictures, all of them. I loved the way I looked and the comments really filled me with confidence. I liked myself on a photograph for the first time since I was captured by my father, about to throw a rubber deck. Thank you so much, E40, and I would love to do this again once we are properly out of lockdown.
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