“I’ve always had a thing about train tracks”.
So said a friend of mine as we walked up Snowdon over the weekend, alongside the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
That sounds ripe for an insight, I thought. “Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know really” came the answer, as ever.
And despite the fact that we were only a quarter of the way through the trek, which meant I had him captive for six hours, I got no further.
There was clearly an emotional connection there. And I know enough to know that means there has to be an underlying need being met.
But as for what it is, I’m none the wiser. Mind you, it’s hard to do a projection exercise when you’re stomping up a 1 in 2 incline.
So on the train back from Bangor to Euston I was filling in the time by following the England vs. India World Cup game on the BBC website.
Every time I checked the score, there was my phone screen image, my two children walking along a deserted Portuguese beach at sunset, leaving two lines of footprints in the sand behind.
Funny that. Why do I like photos of people walking away from the camera?
There are two others at home. One is of my wife and me on an empty woodland road on a sunny afternoon near a lake in Canada soon after we’d met. We’d taken a friend’s dog for a walk.
Another of her and our son on Wandsworth Common in the snow of 2009. It was the first time he’d ever seen snow and you can sense the wonder by the angle of his head
As with my friend and his train track attraction, there is definitely an emotional connection for me. The photos may be simple snaps but they strike some sort of chord.
But which one? Time for some self-analysis.
So first, what’s happening in these photos?
People are walking. Are they walking away or forward? Or just walking?
In two, I’m the photographer, the other I’m in the picture. So I’m always there. I don’t think it’s abandonment.
In two we’re on holiday, the other it’s in the snow, which always feels a bit like a holiday, doesn’t it?
In fact, the weather in each case is a kind of ideal - sunny afternoon, sunset on a beach, fresh white snow in grey old London.
I can remember the feeling in each case. A sense of calm. Walking slowly. No rush. Plenty of time for a photo.
They’re also about people unaware they’re being observed. So the poses and movements are natural. It’s people as they really are.
And I’m absolutely no kind of photographer but the shots are quite well composed. The people feel the right distance from the camera. The surroundings frame them.
But what’s the insight? Come on, you do this for a living.
Hang on, what do Liverpool fans sing?
“Walk, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone”