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About Tommy Forbes
Every morning I am awake between five and six. It’s an annoying sleeping pattern but, this summer it gave me a few hours every morning to wander the streets of California.
“It is strange that when one thinks of New York we think of those bustling streets and the many great street photographers who have worked them, yet despite the revival here, there is no real ultimate body of work on the streets of London.” – Martin Parr.
This statement is likely to be argued from both sides for a long time. Many photographers have made the streets of London their locus but how do you define an ‘ultimate body of work”? Are modern cities simply too big and diverse to be summed up in the work of only one person? And surely it takes time, sometimes decades, for images to trickle in to the collective consciousness and gain their eventual acclaim?
All I know is that for the time being London is my home and this is the first instalment of what will be an annual set of images taken here. They’re the first steps and while they may not lead to the body of work Parr claims is absent from the capital, I can at least aspire to create something that comes close.
Contrary to what is reported in the press the number of people camped in the shadow of St. Paul’s is not dwindling. More people come each day and arrive to a highly organised camp complete with a media centre, a library and a canteen rammed with donated food.
The temperature has dropped dramatically in the last few days When I got there it was early morning and people sat in the mouths of their tents warming their hands on cups of tea as a constant stream of city workers flowed past on their way to the office.
The press and outside world seem impatient to find out what these people want, be it a list of demands or a solution to the situation they protest against. But none is delivered, those things are all still to be decided and at the moment they are just happy to jointly say no. How long they will be allowed to stay there is unclear but from the people I met they’re determined to stay as long as it takes.
PORTRAIT OF THE INDIAN MALE
Asking strangers for their portrait in any country always comes with the risk of a “no” and an awkward moment before I shuffle off disappointed. If I get a yes I’ll ask them to lose the smile, look calmly into the camera, I’ll take the picture and move on.
This didn’t happen in India.
by Tommy Forbes
No one said no and no one smiled. Instead everyone adopted an air of quiet pride as they stood and waited. I loved it, I took a lot of portraits, the best of which you can see here . . .
I am home now and no longer wake up in a new place each day with nothing to do but wander about taking pictures. Bugger. Real life has taken me back and spending so much of my time on photography is now impossible. I look back at these images and realise that maybe I’ll never have an opportunity like that again, to focus so completely on something I love, for such a long time. Sad but true, but things have to move on.
This final set, unlike the previous two, is not from one specific country but instead a collection of images from the entire trip.
Hope you enjoy them,
My Grandfather spent only one night in Japan and refused to leave his hotel room. His brief protest, mad due to Japanese treatment of POWs in WW2, lasted until early the next morning when he flew to Hong Kong.
I was there for a month.
Subjects to avoid: teenage girls in short skirts and long white socks, geishas, my or anyone I know stood in front of anything interesting and robots.
On the 18th of April everything in my life was irreversibly changed by the sudden death of my Mother. The two years that followed were difficult for my family, all of us trying to find our way in a life that no longer featured someone so very important. During this time it occurred to me that if death and illness can ruin everything so swiftly and efficiently, then it’s far better to do the things you want to do now, rather than give disaster the time and opportunity to fuck things up. We gave ourselves a year, wrote a list of countries, planned, saved, packed our bags and went.
With me I took an unfamiliar camera, a bag of film and a mental list of “travel photography” clichés I hoped to avoid. First up… North America