Monday, 24 March 2014

Dhoon Beach - Allan Wright

Accepting I am perhaps better known for my landscape work, a comment from my principle photo library to the effect that image sales are often achieved more easily when there are people in the photograph led me to trawl my files for people pictures, (an interesting journey in itself!).

Out of curiosity I pulled out these two images which have a "before and after" story behind them. The scene is The Dhoon Beach, Kirkcudbright circa 2009 (locals will know it well) A balmy and magical haar lingers across the bay and there in front of me is a timeless scene, a score or more of young children making sandcastles. This kind of light invokes in me an eagerness to explore possibilities. Working quickly while the action lasts I rattle off two or three shots with a longish telephoto lens, conscious of the need to keep my distance where children are concerned. Enjoying the candidness of the scenario, primary colours popping out from the neutralising fog and even the ghostly boat skeleton in the distance, I thought, this is nice material to work with.

There was an edge to my creative moment though, too good to be true you might say, I sensed trouble brewing and from experience I knew exactly where it was to come from. Teacher was quickly on to me, not happy, suspicious and presuming the worst of course. Down goes the camera, metaphorically hands go up, professional status presented, assurances offered, demonstrations of virtual anonymity of said children in such a long distance shot etc etc. In short no acceptance of the benign nature of my purpose was accepted and the shoot was abandoned. Meanwhile in a display of protectiveness our conscientious teacher took the kids away from the scene.

It's an awkward ethical quandary for the "street" photographer to have such a "no go zone". Most of us anyway, love children and childhood and so naturally would wish to share such experience as this time-honoured tradition illustrates. Arguably we have been in an semi-hysterical state about child photography for many years now and we all know why.

Will the tension ease over time and we can get back to a more innocent time where one can explore and celebrate child innocence and personal sentimentality without zealously upheld constraints? Let's hope so.

Allan Wright

1 comment:

  1. John Stansfield15 April 2014 at 18:05

    I think we have entered a new Dark Age where paranoia, suspicion and fear reign supreme. Photography has been vilified by its incidental association with child pornography. It is the flawed reverse logic of "Paedophiles use photographs of children, therefore a person with a camera taking pictures of children is a paedophile." Utter nonsense of course, but if a renowned local professional photographer cannot take an innocent photograph of a scene which includes children without being harangued in this way, then we have become no better than the people who used to hunt down and burn 'witches'.