Empty Nets. An essay for David Alan Harvey’s workshop at GPP 2014

The Pictures

 

The Video

My assignment was simple: find a story, and shoot it. Well, it took me three days to find that story. Three days of running after an idea in my head that just wasn’t showing. And if I thought I had the premise of a story, David would quickly put that to rest: “you have nothing”

All I can remember now was his admonishment to stop moving. Apparently, I have photographers ADD. I’ve heard it called “Drive-by Shooting”. I call it the “Ooh, Shiny” approach to photography.
“Find someplace, stay there, shoot it until you get bored, and when you’re bored, go on shooting”

All good, but I didn’t have a story to be bored at. I struck lucky: Kaya, a Burn Magazine editor and David’s assistant on the workshop, told me about this fishermen’s accomodation in the heart of Dubai. She said she’d go shoot it herself if she had time, but she’d love for me to have a go. And David added: go take a picture of where they live.

So off I went. I was fairly lucky to find it on the first try with the taxi. And I spent 4 hours there. Every time I thought I was done, I forced myself to stay. After a while, I started seeing things that I missed. I started polishing shots until I got exactly what I wanted. When prayer time came, and the fishermen started trickling back to their accomodation, I asked if I could follow and see where they lived. They thought it strange, but where willing to show me.

Unfortunately, the guard who oversees the rooms (and the fishermen) wouldn’t let me take a picture.

And sure enough, at the next day’s critique, David jumped on it immediately: go back, get a picture of where they live.

Another day, another traipse. I had a lucky charm this time, though. Fuji had been nice enough to give me an Instax camera. My new friends where delighted to get their picture taken and physically have it. I had two separate guys come at me shyly once I’d moved away a little bit to each ask for a shot. The look on the second one when I told him I’d run out of paper was heart wrenching – but I have his facebook, so he’ll have some pictures of him anyway.
As the sun went down, I still was no closer to seeing where thy live, and I didn’t want to risk the guard another time. But again, the luck you make by sitting around worked: I found their kitchen, hidden on the other side of the road: a trailer with 20 gaz cookers, and NO LIGHTS. They cook using LED lights, and they were more than willing to be lightstands for me.

I had the shots.

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