We don’t do quickly

Thought I’d reached the end of this Rushden stuff then? Wrong!

Rushden Station, Northants _G103722

The day’s getting on a bit and slowly, creepingly, other commitments begin to pop up on the mid-distant horizon.
Prob’ly about time therefore that we begin to consider the possibility of maybe thinking about the return journey homeward.
Not too quickly you understand. We don’t do quickly. Hardly ever.
And of course there’s the slight matter of not having had any coffee for absolutely ages. Now that’s something that does need to be remedied.
Not too quickly you understand, cos we don’t do quickly. But sometime in the reasonably forseeable future sort of thing.

So, vacate the Park and wander aimlessly about for a bit then, after some detours, head in a general direction of somewhere that we may possibly stumble across a coffee-serving type place.

Which takes us along the town’s High Street… um… I think. Never was much good at knowing precisely where I am at any given moment.

Snapping pics along the way obviously… as though it needed saying.

Now, a curious little thing to do with nothing much at all really. Certainly nowt to do with what the principal topic of this post is supposed to be about… or will be when I eventually get around to it. At some stage. Hopefully. Ho hum.

However, this curious little thing…

There we were, strolling along the road (that I’m thinking was the High Street but could have been somewhere else entirely) snapping the occasional pic of this and that and other odds and ends when we spy this cop come walking along behind us. In a purposeful sort of fashion.

Now cops and me, we have this sort of mutual understanding. Or maybe loathing’s a more appropriate word. They snap pics of me. And I snap pics of them. They snap pics of me snapping them. And I snap pics of them snapping me. And so it goes.
Don’t think they like me very much. And I don’t like them. So there!

Oh, I forgot to mention… that’s when I’m doing my photojourno type bit, mainly at protests and stuff.

Rest of the time, well, generally I tend not to take too much notice of them. Or try not to. And it can prob’ly be appreciated that, given the background I’ve described, I’m not really one of those sorts of people who feels nervous or threatened or intimidated or even worried by cops. Not in the slightest. No matter how arsey they can sometimes be. And sometimes they can be really arsey.
I guess I’m not… um… “overly respectful” toward ’em either, but that’s another matter.

So, this cop comes walking along behind us.

Now, given that I’m not totally oblivious of all the crap that’s been going on in this country for the past coupla years or so re taking photographs in public places and so on, and how lots of apparently perfectly innocent photographers are seeming to be excessively harassed by private security types, CPSOs (or is it PCSOs?… never can remember which), cops, and even paranoid members of the public, I was half anticipating a bit of a quizzing from this guy.

After all, two dodgy-looking blokes taking pics of buildings and stuff along one of the town’s main thoroughfares? Hell, we could be arch terrorists or summat. Plotting to blow the entire place to smithereens and taking a few discreet snapshots beforehand.
With perfectly visible cameras and mate with his bright red fleece that sticks out like a sore thumb. Um. Yeah. That sounds about right for copthink.

So I sort of make brief eye contact, vaguely throw a nearly-nod in his general direction, and… he smiles at us, nods his head, and walks on by apparently without a care in the world. Well bugger me!
I almost feel sort of deprived. Discriminated against kinda thing. What can I be doing wrong that I don’t deserve being stopped and harassed then? Its just not bloody fair! I’m almost tempted to complain about it. Hell, if it carries on like this I’m not gonna have anything to write about before too long. (Was that a sigh of relief I heard?)

All of which is a nice little intro to a sort of half-baked almost theory that I’ve been mulling the past few months.
That a lot of the grief to which photographers of various persuasions seem to be subjected may be much more to do with their own attitude to a situation rather than some escalation in the curtailment of photographers’ freedoms.

Do they go out looking for confrontation? Do they act a bit stroppy? Do they allow insistence on their “rights” to override common sense and basic courtesy? Dunno.

But I have to say, during the four years or so that I’ve been out and about taking pics all over the place and in a whole variety of different circumstances (some of which have been quite dodgy), I have very rarely been challenged. And on those few occasions when the “usual suspects” (i.e., private security types and paranoid public mainly) have expressed an interest in what I’m up to its never been in a particularly aggressive or intimidatory manner. Nor has it ever concluded in an unpleasant fashion.
Neither have I felt that my so-called “rights” have been infringed in the slightest.

Or perhaps I’ve just been lucky. Ot maybe folk just don’t like talking to me. Heh heh. Result!

Right. Having got that off me chest, let’s press on.

So there we were, wandering along this ‘ere road that could have been the High Street heading (in a very loose sense) toward some sort of supermarket where we had hopes of a cafeteria and the long awaited coffee when I spot a really bizarre sight… over there on my right.

An old and rusty railway signal rising into the sky seemingly out of nowhere! Up a bit of a bank and behind some bushes and a fence. Wow! That has to be worth investigating!

Rushden Station, Northants _G103724

But coffee first of course. Everything has to wait whilst the needs of the inner man are attended. Yep. Even pic-taking.

Fast forward a bit then to the post-coffee time and a return to the scene of the signal. Can’t get a decent shot of it though. Nowhere near a clear field of view. Oh pooh!
So round the corner and amble up the road alongside it. And what have we here?

Rushden Station!

But not any old railway station. Oh no. Though old certainly. A relic from the past in fact (bit like me I s’pose). Either a lovingly created replica or a carefully restored and preserved original (unlike me). And I suspect the latter.
An evocative station building (how can one ever mistake that classic railway architecture) adorned with advertisments from an age long gone, hand-trolleys and stuff on the platform, rolling stock… ooh, loadsa stuff.

Rushden Station, Northants _G103743

Rushden Station, Northants _G103733

Seems its home to some sort of private members’ club… presumably fans of the station. And I think there’s a railway museum there as well, though pretty much eveything including the station was locked up. Apart from a door through which some kegs of beer were being delivered… I’m guessing for the club.

Nevertheless, a feast of pics. Even though we couldn’t actually get on to the platform and had to shove our lenses through gaps in the surrounding fences.

Rushden Station, Northants _G103740

And d’you know what I was thinking throughout the entire session? Well, not so much what I was thinking, but who I was thinking of.
Yet another photochum of mine whom I suspect would absolutely love the place. So this little batch of pics were all taken not just for my own enjoyment but equally as much for his.

The Rushden Station set of pics are here on Flickr.

Rushden Station, Northants _G103726

About fotdmike

Occasional photographer; occasional writer/blogger; occasional activist; occasional computer-geek. Bit of a fool really.
This entry was posted in Adventures, Photography Chat and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to We don’t do quickly

  1. Pingback: An absolute wealth of stuff « Adventures of an Idiot – occasional ramblings of a photography freak

  2. forkboy says:

    You may recall I commented about the apparent “nice face forward” work of the police at one of the last events you photographed (don’t recall which… maybe Climate Camp?). That perhaps the effort was genuine, but that you wanted to take a wait-n-see approach (very reasonable too).

    I share your suspicions that just as there will be constables or security types who are complete butt-heads, there will also be photo-types who simply want to cause trouble. To stir the pot, so to speak. No one side every has the monopoly on truth and fair play. Or so it seems.

  3. forkboy says:

    Great… now I’m on the fotdmike plan.


    • fotdmike says:

      You really don’t wanna be on any plans of mine. Vague though they are they gen’rally entail something nasty happening to someone somewhen. Gen’rally not me.


  4. David says:

    Hey Mike,
    I recon your right about the attitudes of some photographers, I have watched a few bits of video fottage where photographers were apparently beign harrased by the police and/or security staff but what I witnessed was ignorance and stupidity on the part of the photopgraphers.
    e.g. this one woman who was stopped filming in the Docklands are (I think thats where she was!) she was filming, of all things,CCTV locations!! Supsicions raised straight away, when approached by a Police officer she says she is filing for ‘fun’ and is pretty awkward with them, she eventually says it is part of a college course, but only after giving them grief! Now to my books she was clearly in the wrong, why not be up front right from the beginning? She deserved a few hours in police cells.
    I am well aware that at times the police can be bullish and go ott but come on photographers, if your stopped why not be upfront with them about what you are doing and who you are? and for goodness sake dont be awkward or obstructive just for the fun of it because they will have the last laugh.

    • fotdmike says:

      Yeah. The more I hear of these incidents and take the time to look into the details a bit the more convinced I become that some photographers leave common sense at home when they go out with their camera. And either don’t understand or have never learned things like courtesy and politeness.

      My take on it is that cops and security guards have a job to do, and inevitably that job requires them to be what the ordinary man-in-the-street may regard as overly suspicious.
      As the ordinary “man-in-the-street” it may not always be obvious to us why seemingly innocent behaviour appears suspicious, but that’s not really relevant.
      Seems to me both cops and security guards are completely entitled to ask why a person’s doing something. Nothing wrong with that… its part of their job. Nor is there anything wrong with responding in a courteous manner.

      What’s really lost if we politely explain who we are and describe what we’re doing, and why? Nothing! Maybe just a slight dent to the ego.
      And in offering such an explanation to someone who’s entitled to ask as part of their job have we actually given any so-called “rights” up, or had our freedom infringed upon? Of course not. And to think otherwise is a load of balderdash.

      What would we rather? That the likes of cops and security guards were forbidden by law from asking people questions? What a completely stupid notion.

      If I’m sat on a crowded bus and an elderly lady gets on I’ll likely surrender my seat to her. I don’t have to, but it just seems the right thing to do.
      And in doing so I’m not really losing anything, or giving up my “right” to that seat. I’m merely being courteous.

      As regards other members of the public quizzing photographers, what I think’s needed here is a deep breath, a step back, and looking at the situation in context.
      That context being us living in a world where both politicians and media (for their own reasons) have hyped up the “terrorist scare” to such an extent that the (by and large) gullible public are encouraged, indeed almost forced, to adopt paranoia as the default state of being.
      Compound that with the media hype surrounding paedophiles and suchlike and its not really surprising that lots of folk are beginning to regard photographers with the deepest suspicion.

      Seems to me that the best and most sensible way of responding to this paranoia is not to exacerbate the situation by being evasive about one’s activities, but seek to allay (albeit unfounded) fears by involving the fearful enquirer in one’s activities.
      Explain to them what you’re doing; what you’re trying to do; what you want to achieve.
      Who knows… it may even be that you get them interested in photography as well.

      What’s so very wrong with that approach?

      Anyway, it seems to work for me.

      On the odd occasions that I’ve become involved in that sort of conversation I’ve found the biggest hazard has been the encroachment on time! Cos the questioner becomes so genuinely interested in what you’re doing and then can’t resist telling you about all the other places where decent pics can be had, and so forth.
      And when I walk away from the encounter to carry on photographing with their blessing I find that I seem to have acquired yet another new friend.

      And maybe done photographers as a group a bit of a favour into the bargain, by showing yet another person that we’re not a bunch of terrorists or perverts but relatively normal people… just with a weird passion for photography.

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