So what does this have to do with photography?
On the surface, probably not much. For me, it is a part of my urban experience. Travelling on the train or walking down the street, graffiti tags or art appear, and often the most random of places. Sometimes it caught my eye; sometimes I ignored it.
Even photographing graffiti wouldn’t have been my first choice, I must admit.
So, what attracted me?
It was a subject that found me really. After returning to B&W photography, I was exploring projects I could work on. A few months back, I had decided to photography Borough Market in London and the surround area.
On the edge of The City, Borough is an area that has a certain charm, but I don’t know it well. It has an old worldly feel to it, but there were elements of regeneration as well. I was looking forward to exploring it.
Whilst exploring the streets close to the Market, I noticed ‘Robbery is sincerest form of business’ subtly spray panted on a couple of buildings. It interested me enough to incorporate it in a couple of shots, but it wasn’t strong enough to take centre stage.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a rather large piece of work under a viaduct near the market that graffiti grabbed my attention with both hands. The piece of work was a triangle with an eye in the middle. It had seen me, and I had seen it. It was then that my best laid plans were side tracked.
Visually, I was interested in a very abstract view of this piece of art. It was about the texture of the paint and the rather rough and imperfect brickwork; it was about the roughness and how light and shadows played with it.
On a more intellectual level, graffiti is rather subversive and transient, whether it’s tagging or a work of art. Contradictory, it also says ‘I was here’, ‘I exist’. It’s a fleeting moment sometimes, as much of graffiti is painted over or removed by councils.
These are qualities are paralleled in photography. Capturing a fleeting moment, mood, character and emotion. It can be subversive enough cause governments and authority to try to control it or bury images. But it can also be an art form.
It was there, however briefly, and so was I.