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Dirty Pictures!

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Here is a random picture for you to be horrified at...
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I was standing on a verge at the edge of a lane, taking photographs of the landscape for my commercial photography website (http://www.stephenrileyphoto.co.uk/), dimly aware of the odd car whizzing down the tarmac behind me. Having now moved to Somerset, I am building up my stock of shots of local scenery for my folio. I’d found a good vantage point, just south of Shepton Mallet, and was trying to get a nice moody shot of Glastonbury Tor, across undulating fields and against the backcloth of a grey, autumnal sky.

All of a sudden, my concentration was shattered by a loud voice, bellowing something like ‘you dirty bleeder’, from a passing white van. Now you, dear reader, may be forgiven for thinking that this was just an act of rank stupidity - especially given that what I was photographing was a landscape with no people in it whatsoever; not even any sheep - but I believe there was ‘reasoning’ of a sort going on or, at least, the following of an established trend.

A few years ago, I had cause to spend some time working with other professional photographers, and they often talked about peculiar encounters they had had with the public. Generally, if taking photographs in any public place, it will not be long before someone accuses you of being a paedophile. It doesn’t matter what you are taking photographs of; it could be street scenes, architecture or big, hefty, grown-up adults; whatever the case, man + camera = paedophile, apparently. Sometimes, even, woman + camera = paedophile.

And then a memory came back to me: I was doing a shoot in Basingstoke, about ten years ago, featuring a model walking across a town-centre square, when I could hear from behind me ‘it’s disgusting’; ‘he’s taking pictures’, or words to that effect. My model was a forty-odd year-old, fully-clothed woman. Answers on a postcard please…

I wonder what this tells us about our society: lots of projection going on, perhaps. But I cannot help but wonder at the quality of logic. It is often commented on that contemporary society has more information to hand than any in history, but that has done nothing for, or perhaps has come to supplant, knowledge and understanding. In spite of a century or so of free education, common sense is still no more common than it ever was.