Reading Marius De Zayas essay got me to thinking about my own photography and whether I could find examples of where I had taken a photograph with no particular intention at the time that later on seemed to have other possibilities.
I took this photograph at the top of Mount Vesuvius. At the time I was purely interested in documenting just how much I couldn’t see at a location where I was told I could expect spectacular views.
I came back to this photograph several months later and looked at it again without the baggage of just having returned from a holiday. The fog creates a dream-like environment, with people moving from one unknown place to another. It reminds me of an impression I had as a young boy of what purgatory would be like.Perhaps an obvious metaphor but the fence on either side does suggest a place that we are prevented from going to because of our behaviour. It also leaves open whether that place would be better or worse than the fenced-in path.
As an alternative, this is one I took with an idea specifically in mind. I visited Hyde Park just to see the Christo “Mastaba” installation floating on the Serpentine. This was a last minute decision to go there as it was due to be dismantled in a few days. When I got there I realised there was a big sport event involving hundreds of people swimming the entire Serpentine
Not having ever seen a Christo installation other than in pictures before, I was expecting to be wowed by it. In fact the swimming event made it seem much more ordinary than I expected. This has been in place for three months now and it has become just another part of the landscape. I wanted to document how the extraordinary becomes ordinary given enough time. I was reminded of how I in the early 1970s – along with many others – became slightly bored with the moon landings. What should have continued to make us appreciate what was a huge achievement, had just become commonplace. I deliberately took this from a distance to include the swimmers, support boats, buoys, and high-rise buildings to show just how much this surprised me a lot less than I expected.