One of my projects for this summer was collecting research. I spent time buying heaps of books, with a clear goal in mind.
However, one of the areas I never thought I would be interested in, was old photographs.
I found an old photo in a drawer while cleaning up at home, and I found that the photo so intrigued me, I had to find more. I thought it would be an easy thing to do, but I was mistaken. I didn’t really have time to go around second hand bookshops, antique markets or shops that specialise in these things, and I thought that I would be able to find some in boot sales. But, they are more inclined to selling their half-worn shoes, than something as interesting (to me) as old photographs.
So, my next port of call, was good-ole eBay. The only problem here, was the wealth of choice! I managed to find heaps of photos, but had to put a restriction on my spending, or I could easily have ended up with a few hundred photos, of varying degrees of usefulness, and of subjects diverse and either interesting or not.
One of the most interesting pictures that I managed to find was this (below) photograph of a soldier on a motorbike, talking to a young girl sitting in the rain. Just looking at it, brings so many questions, so many scenarios and so much interest for me, that I had to have it. I’m sure if you study it for a few minutes, you’ll be asking yourself questions as well.
Another photo I found was the one at the top of the page, of three men playing instruments. just looking at it, makes you almost able to hear the music they’re playing, the fun they’re having, the claps and laughter of the people watching.
The last photo is of a young woman about to ride away on her bicycle. The smile on her face, speaks volumes, of freedoms hard won, of being where she wants to be, of so many things. Perhaps all she really wants to do, is enjoy some free time with friends, or family. to be able to explore a place that she hadn’t seen before. Maybe she’s on holiday, maybe she’s going to work.
My point is, that without intimate knowledge of peoples’ lives and circumstances, we will always be the outsider looking in. We will always be making up our own version of their story, just as they would be making up a version of ours. As writers, or observers, we do this often; find muses to weave our stories around, creating lives, loves and losses for them, even though they could have completely different aspects.