Category Archives: People

It’s all in the eyes of the beholder


Now, I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking “Why on Earth has that Wally posted a photograph of two strangers staring into a shop window.”

Go on, admit it. You were weren’t you?

I mean, anyone who has flicked through these pages before will have come to expect something critical, either of politicians in general or Donald Trump in particular. I know, I do like to aim for the easy targets, but why not. That’s what they are there for.

No, tonight I was inspired, not by any particular event, but by a random search through my recent photographs. The picture above was taken in the early evening as my wife and I strolled through the wonderful streets of York. At this particular point in the day I was just taking random shots of the buildings in the fading light. But when I got back to the hotel and perused my snap shots of this really beautiful city, this particular image just seemed to leap of the screen, beat me about the head a bit, and scream “post me” down my ear. Which of course I did.

That was back in April. Tonight I went back and looked through them again, for no particular reason other than to remind myself of the photographs I have taken so far this year. Which reminds me, I really do need to post some new images to Flickr.

Anyway, back to these two shoppers.

As I said, when I originally took the photograph it was intended as just a snapshot of the buildings, but instead I had inadvertently captured a moment.

The first thing that attracted me to this picture were the colours. The illumination from the shop lights up the young woman’s face, giving an almost fiery glow to her hair. The eyes are drawn to the window itself, trying to make out what it is that has caught this couple’s attention. Maybe it’s jewellery. Maybe they are looking for rings! Or an ornament as a memento of their visit. Or maybe it is a gift for a friend or relative.

Of course, we will never know what is going through their minds, or what they are discussing as they admire whatever it is they have spotted in the window. But do we really need to know?

Each of our lives is made up of fleeting moments. Some are good. Some are bad, but most are transitory and inconsequential. But whatever they are, each moment in unique. It will never happen again. It has gone. At least with photography you can capture those moments. The special ones, or the momentous ones. Even the everyday boring ones. Each picture represents a moment in our lives that we can never experience again, so each one is special in its own unique way.

Pictures like this one offer an opportunity not just to remember the moment itself, but also to create a new one, a new moment that can be whatever we want it to be. We all see something different when we look at pictures, whether that’s a photograph a drawing or a painting. The image in front of us tells each of us a different story. I am sure that some people will look at this particular image and wonder about the footprints on the path. Others may admire the architecture of the buildings or the grid (yes, there are people interested in grids!). But I am sure I am not alone in feeling drawn into the possibilities presented by this young couple as they gaze into the shop window.

This picture is never going to win a prize. I don’t think it is even technically a good photograph, but it does something for me and I just wanted to share that thought with the world.

Don’t worry, I am not going to make a habit of rambling on about photographs, but I don’t rule out posting another in the near future. You have been warned.


Consumerism gone mad

Whether it’s an unconscious effort to distance ourselves from our closest neighbours or a natural gravitation towards those who share our language (after a fashion!), we as a nation seem more inclined to look towards the US for our cultural inspiration than we do towards Europe.

As an island nation we have always been fiercely independent. For hundreds of years we have refused to be dictated to by other nations. But since the mid twentieth century that has been somewhat on the decline. We are increasingly influenced by American ideas and seems more than happy adopt whatever crazy ideas they come up with.

The latest American import into our daily lives is Black Friday! It is only the Americans who can follow a day when they come together to give thanks for their good fortunes with an orgy of commercialism. The founding fathers would be horrified I think.

For a week now there have been advertising campaigns from all the big retailers promising unbeatable savings on almost everything from a pair of gloves to a second hand car. Thankfully this year we did not see a repeat of the hostility and rampant greed that made last year’s event such an embarrassing mess.

I am sure that there are people out there who did manage to secure themselves a bargain and are happy with their day. But I can’t help feeling sorry for the shop workers. Many of them will have had to start work at some ungodly hour just to ensure that everything was ready for the frenzy their employers anticipated. In fact, most of the day’s trading seems to have been online and many shopping centres and stores did not get anything like the numbers of customers they were expecting.

But for many, Friday was just the beginning as most retails are stretching the whole crazy thing over the whole weekend, or even in some cases, beyond. I only hope that they find their efforts were not worth it and that we can return this unnecessary import back where it came from.

Not that this will make a lot of difference. Even now businesses are laying their plans for the next round of sales due to start on Boxing Day. Once again it is the poor shop floor staff who will have to cut short their Christmas holiday to feed our ever growing consumer greed. The one certainty is that I won’t be visiting any shops on Boxing Day, as I didn’t on Friday either. I like a bargain as much as the next person but the thought of being part of the sales frenzy horrifies me – I can’t think of a worse way to spend a day off work.