Choose a viewpoint and write down everything you can see. No matter how boring it seems or how detailed, just write it down. Can you transform this into a photography version?
I read Georges Perec’s (1936-1982) book “An attempt at exhausting a place in Paris’ (1). Tcover says:
One overcast weekend in October 1974, George Perec set out in quest of the ‘infraordinary’: the humdrum, the nonevent, the everyday – ‘what happens’, as he put it, ‘when nothing happens’.
The book’s layout is interesting. It’s almost conversational.
So I decided to sit beside as bus stop near to my house. Using my IPhone to record my thoughts and images.
It’s Monday, the 14th of September at 12:40 and I’m sitting beside the Porchester roundabout south of Portchester station.
It’s a super hot day. Maybe 25c.
In front of me is a green bus shelter.
On my left is the Red Lion pub at the end of the precinct by the roundabout.
The signage is an unpleasant combination of green and red. The outside chairs are colour matched.
Number 3 bus has just arrived . And two people are getting on.
Two old people. One’s got a pink jacket. The other one, a man. He’s kind of tried to dress up but he’s dishevelled.
One of them has got on the bus without a face mask. Oh well… The driver is just waiting, I guess for the people to sit down.
The bus stop is empty now. I didn’t know this but the bus stop name is The Precinct.
Fareham Borough Council have got a sign on the green bus stop saying ‘Shop local shop safe’. We haven’t got much choice these days.
There’s a guy in a white T-shirt with beige shorts having a pint. He’s got two tiny dogs. They’ve got wide red collars on that match the red chairs. Quite artistic.
I’m surprised so many people are wearing masks out in the open.
2 women walk by. Both of them quite elderly.
One’s carrying her shopping in a red bag with 2 other bags on her left arm. It looks like quite hard work.
The other woman is quite disabled. She’s gone into the bus shelter to wait for a bus. She’s got one of those square shopping bags on wheels. She’s sat with her face mask on.
Just as I say that a red Ferrari drives past. Slightly incongruous really.
I’m surprised how overweight everybody looks.
There’s a subway under the roundabout. I’ve lived here for 20 years and I’ve never used it. it’s quite surprising how many people seem to be.
A slightly overweight guy that walked past me earlier has got his lunch in two white paper bags. I think I can understand why he’s overweight now.
There’s three large dustbins by the bus stop. Left to right. The first one is blue and says ‘Paper and cardboard’. The second one is red and it says ‘Plastic bottles’. And the third one is black and says ‘Cans’.
The place looks quite untidy because so many leaves have fallen and haven’t been cleared up.
Here comes another number 3 bus. It goes to South Parade Pier from Portchester.
A lady just got off with a lilac top. And a facemask that she has just taken off.
The woman with the square basket didn’t want that bus so she’s still waiting. I wonder where she’ll go.
A woman has just posted a letter in the post box that is just left of the bus stop.
Here comes another man up the subway. I don’t want to sound sizist but here’s quite big too.
The bench I’m sitting on looks towards the road. There is another bench to my left that is at 90 degrees to me. There’s three people sat on that.
An old guy in a blue Pompey shirt slowly walks past to put rubbish into the bins. Presumably plastic bottles.
The man with the two dogs with red collars has just taken his T-shirt off. His dogs seem to have got excited. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a turn on.
Another number 3 bus has arrived. And the woman with the basket is getting on. Why didn’t she get on the first number 3 bus?
Bless her. She’s quite disabled.
The bus driver lets the woman sit down before driving off. There are six people on it all wearing masks.
The bus stop is empty now.
Lovely old couple walking down the precinct towards me holding hands. I love that sight. She’s got a white top and red trousers and white shoes with one of those walking sticks that you use when you do a country walk.
The pub landlady has come out to tell the dog man to put his shirt back on. He is very compliant.
The lovely old couple are checking the bus timetable. I wonder where they are going.
A beige Vespa scooter has just driven up onto the pavement and parked beside the pub. So noisy.
Vespa man gets off his bike and goes to sit with white T-shirt man and the two dogs.
A red post van parks at the bus stop. The Postie walks past to the pet shop behind me. Then back to his van.
He wasn’t carrying much. Must be pet food for a small pet.
Do you know how some people that just seem to be loud? Well, Vespa man is speaking on his mobile. We can all hear what he’s saying.
An ambulance drives by quickly. Blue lights on.
A blue tractor drives by slowly.
The man in the blue Pompey shirt comes back to the bus stop.
Vespa man is now talking (loudly) to white T-shirt man. Both drinking beer (larger) on a small red table.
The lovely old couple get onto a number 3 bus. Off for a walk somewhere together.
II decided to stay in the same place because events and stories develop in front of you. People get off buses go shopping and get back on buses. Meetings start and finish. If I had chosen to move around I would not have witnessed the unfolding of these micro dramas.
In terms of which camera to use, for me, the iPhone is best. When you sit for a prolonged period of time in a place where people don’t expect you to sit, they become if not suspicious, interested in what you’re doing. It was difficult enough to photograph with an iPhone let alone something more conspicuous. It’s not that I necessarily mind being conspicuous, although I would prefer not to be, the problem is that people cease to behave normally. They seem to adapt to the photographer’s presence.
TIn terms of colour my natural preference is black and white. But when you’re trying to describe people in words it’s necessary to identify them; the man with the blue shirt the lady was the lilac dress skirt. And so if using black-and-white it would be impossible to tie the images back to the conversational subjects. So for that reason definitely I would prefer to shoot in colour.
Perec, G. and Lowenthal, M., 2010. An Attempt At Exhausting A Place In Paris. Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press.