See if you can match the following captions with the images taken last weekend in Bristol, which I was visiting to enjoy the St Werburghs Festival:
1. A reveller outside the Minor’s Arms flounced off his binge on ecstasy pipes (or horse tranquilliser). He carries in his pocket a book entitled: “How to fossilise your hamster”
2. An unusual and ghostly close friend of mine guarding two teacups of cider brandy on top of St Werburghs hill at 5AM
3. A witty graffito drawing an analogy between the hysteria or jaundiced consumerism of popular culture and current political events
4. A shopkeeper’s attempt to con some Gloucester Road shopper into a purchasing a lame and tatty item on the basis of endearing humour
5. A remnant of clothing being attacked by a rogue element of road-marking.
6. “Bringing down the system / sticking it to the man”
If you do manage to solve this brainteaser, then send me your answers and I will see if I can bring myself to read them.
We know that barbers just don’t give a fuck. We know they feel a hairstyle photo in their shop window only really matures when it is at least two decades old. But I have never seen a head shot so faded (and clearly so loved) that some manky tonsorist has taken the trouble to restore it with biro. Badly.
I was strolling down Oxford Street yesterday without my camera. Which was unusual.
When I don’t have my camera, I inevitably regret it. So I spend most of the time looking for shots I have missed the opportunity of taking. I think of it as a worthwhile lesson in not leaving my camera at home. I will also find my unoccupied eyes drawn to the work of other photographers. I find it fascinating how other people relate to imagery, and especially how professionals use their art to sell stuff effectively.
Walking down Oxford Street is a bit like running a gauntlet of greasy lunatics hitting you with florescent ‘for sale’ signs. I always find it an onslaught on my senses, and I enjoy it when I am feeling relaxed, but dislike it when I am stressed or in a hurry. Despite its shabbiness, consumers from all round the world love Oxford Street and flock there in their tens of thousands to gawp at the trainers, handbags, kilts and other wares being touted in the shop windows. The flood of shoppers is silently but intensely watched over by the models in the adverts: the wearers of what you should be wearing, the trusty guardians of consumer desire.
Sex sells, and you see it in these posters. The photographers use all their knowledge of composition leading the eye, colour and gesture etc. to work their spell on the (as yet) unfulfilled passers-by.
Look at this advert I saw in a shoe shop window. You don’t have to be a genius to work out how the sexual symbolism is working here. All the compositional movement from those improbably (i.e. photoshopped) slender limbs points to the central conceit of the image: the sexual substitution of the shoe.
It is a clever piece of advertising photography. Was it intended to work on men, women or, as I suspect both?