Updated: Jan 4, 2019
Hell, as any photographer will tell you, is other people. Wherever you are, whatever you're photographing, you can pretty much guarantee that a random person will do their very best to ruin your shot.
Take a recent trip to the Isle of Wight. I'm standing at the far end of a lonely beach, my camera clamped on a tripod ready to take a long exposure of the tide washing over chalk rocks. As I check my settings I sense a presence and turn to see a man ambling along the shore.
This is a long, wide stretch of sand. It's late afternoon and we are the only two people on it. Yet the man decides to stop and look wistfully out to sea, there, right in front of my camera.
Skip ahead to another beach, this one in Miami, Florida. I have flown 4,426 miles to photograph the wonderfully whimsical lifeguard stands dotted along the sand.
It’s 5.45 am and I fall out of bed to get the soft, early morning light. The streets are dark outside as I walk the seven or so blocks to South Pointe, yet as I rock up to a bright purple stand I encounter a young woman tethered to the structure by a dayglo orange bungee rope, endlessly kangarooing back and forth. Dumbstruck, I wait twenty or so minutes until she stops to take a breath. But just as she does, a man appears from nowhere with a rusty metal detector and starts sweeping the sand by my feet in search of hidden treasure.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I have arrived at the famous Campo in Siena at 4.30am, hoping to capture it in all its 14th century majesty, to be greeted by council workers in bright green onesies cleaning the square with industrial vacuums. I have clambered over slippery wet rocks to a remote and secluded bay in Jersey to find two nuns perched on a headland enjoying a picnic. And I have stood patiently by a roadside waiting for the critical moment to take a photograph, only for a man to wander up and confide in me that he's just met a 'hot chick' who he's pretty sure wants to have sex with him.
All these people have an absolute right to be doing what they’re doing. I get that. All I ask is that they do it in front of someone else’s bloody camera.