I nearly died taking this photograph.
I had got to the point where I was using only a digital 35mm lens. All zooms had been abandoned and I was permitting myself only two focal lengths: 35mm and 60mm. Mostly it was the former.
I saw these guys over the road. As we all know, you tend to see the world differently when you have a camera in your hands and maybe, on another day, I wouldn’t have looked twice at this. But the scaffolding provides a framework and the three figures were nicely spaced out.
More and more these days I think that for a photograph to attract the eye and retain it for a moment or two it has to provide some sort of distillation. If all that the photograph contains is the commonplace then why photograph it in the first place? Doubtless the Atget and Walker Evans school enthusiasts would have an answer to that - perhaps that their photographs do distil reality in the way that a diary does, or collected letters (in the days that people used to write letters, that is). But I like to see something a bit more concentrated.
So, I zoomed with my feet to what I thought was the safety of cross-hatching in centre of the road, and raised camera to eye. It just gave a nice frame. Now, look closely at the guy in the middle with the gloves coming out of his back pocket. Beyond him, reflected in the glass window is a bus. Are you with me? Just as I clicked the shutter there was a loud beep, the sound of rapid deceleration and I narrowly escaped photographing my own demise. That would have been more evaporation than distillation.
Here’s another one I took on the same day from the safety of a street corner.