“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
It rained all morning the day I took the 2 1/2 hour train ride from Lancaster to London. It was a high-speed train, and it swayed from side to side as the scenery whizzed by in both sides of my peripheral vision. Reading seemed impossible. In fact, avoiding motion sickness seemed impossible. So I occupied myself snapping shots out the window. Most of my results came out as blurry as expected, but I was quite pleased with some of the shots. The way the water played on the window, and the blurry, vibrant whisps of countryside and rail stations captured by chance, seem to pay proper tribute to my anticipation of adventures to come.
I’ve been to Europe 3 times now and every time, I’m reminded of my first photography hero, the late Henri Cartier-Bresson who is considered the father of modern journalism and a master of candid photography. He was the author of The Decisive Moment and helped start the “street photography” movement.
Back when I started getting my portfolio together with the idea of applying to art school in mind, I found myself trying to make images like Cartier-Bresson and a slew of other bystander photography or street photography greats like Brassai, Robert Doisneau, Joel Meyerowitz, and Gary Winogrand just to name a few. My all time favorite photographer in this category is Robert Frank, originally from Switzerland. He took an outsider’s point of view on post-war America with his famous photo book, The Americans. The book was initially refused publication in the US because of it’s skeptical depiction of Americans.
On this trip, I was the outsider, and I couldn’t resist the urge to try my hand at street photography again. Travel always brings that out in me. Here are some of my results from Lancaster and London.
At one point near the end of a long day, I left Allen to his lecturing activities at Lancaster University and stole away, back to downtown Lancaster with the hopes of getting some good shooting in. I didn’t have a lot of time, because I had to take the bus back and meet up with the group again so we could drive into the countryside for dinner. Here are some of the more picturesque shots I took as I walked somewhat aimlessly. I’m not drawn to picture postcards, but I did get one or two in there. I’ll be posting some more shots soon.
After dinner we walked back and Derek and Yoke Sum took us to see their garden. We made our way down a narrow corridor of stone and concrete that stretches behind their home and the adjoining neighbors’ to a small garden plot at the end. My eyes are always wide when I travel and on this particular evening I was quite taken with the beautiful colors I encountered each time I changed my glance.
After our stay in Manchester, we headed for Lancaster where our hosts put us up in the charming Sun Hotel, a traditional English pub and hotel with a history going all the way back to 1610. The Sun is located in the center of Lancaster, which is a vibrant university city with cobbled streets and stone houses filled with a wide array of shops, bars and restaurants. Allen and I were struck by the number of boutiques and specialty stores we saw featuring such high end brands as Barbour and Patagonia, and specialty items like binoculars, telescopes, bikes, model trains and fishing gear. With a population of about 46,000, Lancaster seemed rather small to us, but apparently it’s a constituent settlement of the wider City of Lancaster, which has a population of almost 135,000 and includes several outlying towns.
On our first night in Lancaster, Derek and Yoke Sum took us to their beautiful home in nearby Garstang, and I was delighted to finally meet their lively and affectionate Lucinda Dog, a standard poodle, who I’ve heard tell about on countless occasions but never met.
Lucinda of Lancaster, Molly Jarboe
We walked to a neighborhood pub for a meal of fish and chips and other local fare. It turns out, dogs are allowed in pubs in England and Luci came along. She had some important business to tend to on the way, so Derek lead us through a wooden stile to a lush open field and Lucy did her thing, and got a little running in as well.