An elderly lady, the keeper of the keys, well into her eighties, walks back to her cottage after kindly opening an old rural church in County Clare for me so I could take photographs.
I first visited Ireland in 1977 and visited again 31 years later. It was like chalk and cheese; never have I seen a country change so quickly. Much of the west of Ireland was in a world of its own in the 1970s. For example, I can remember spending an evening in a rural pub where my girlfriend and myself where the only non-locals. The two perfectly competent bar staff couldn't have been any older than fourteen. They told me they were brothers and their parents, who owned the pub, were down the road for a night out at another bar. They even turned people away because they were underage! When I asked if there was any food they told me sorry, we don't serve food, then reappeared five minutes later with a cheese sandwich which was "on the house if you have another Guinness."
Nowadays the pub is likely to be a bistro with a perfectly competent adult chef, or a wine bar with Porsches and Mercedes in the car park whose owners work at Google or Microsoft and haven't been to mass since childhood. I suspect the kind lady in this photograph wouldn't have been entirely comfortable with the newer Ireland.
Captured on a street in Valletta. A woman takes a photograph of another woman's bag. I take a photograph of the woman taking a photograph of another woman's bag and a guy in the distance watches me taking a photograph of a woman taking a photograph of another woman's bag. And I also take a photograph of a guy in the distance watching me take a photograph of a woman taking a photograph of another woman's bag. A loop of observers.
Every time I walked past this guy he was fast asleep and snoring while minding his shop, despite all the hustle and bustle of the medina in Marrakech. I got the feeling his sixth sense would wake him up pretty quickly if customers, especially tourists, started looking at his wares. I'm not even sure what it is he's selling.
Straw hats are a very uncommon sight in Morocco. This guy was working unloading the fishing boats in the harbour at Essaouira and stood out from his peers. He also has a very photogenic demeanour. A little pensive, a little doleful, perhaps.
Washday captured in the village of Tai O, Lantau Island. I've been to Hong Kong several times. The first was in 1995 when the majority of people I knew didn't own a mobile phone. Not because they couldn't afford one, more because the infrastructure was in its infancy and outside of major urban areas, such as where I lived, non-existent. The first person I knew who owned a mobile phone couldn't get a signal unless he drove almost 100km. So what I particularly noticed in Hong Kong was the prevalence of mobile phone use. And, of course, people seemed comfortable with technology in general.
I was equally surprised, then, when I came across this scene fifteen years later. It brought home how wide the gap can be between the poor and the not-so-poor in even well-developed economies. People washing their clothes at a standpipe in the street was not something I expected to see in such a technologically advanced place like Hong Kong in the 21st century. Minus the plastic stool and bucket, this image could have been captured a century ago. The ironic thing is, although I embrace some technology, I would jump at the chance to capture this scene using century old photographic technology. I much prefer a washing machine for my own laundry, however.
I'd sit, people watching, in a café opposite the mosque in the medina in Sousse and this guy would appear outside the mosque entrance at every call to prayer. He wasn't a preacher, even though he looked like one, instead he'd set up a little Islamic book stall. One evening the potential for a moody low-light image was obvious. A long lens and added vignette effect did the rest. He'd noticed me pointing a lens in his direction before but he never seemed to care. And yes, the title is an attempt at a subtle word play on Darth Vader.
The giant azulejo tiled outer wall of the Igreja do Carmo in Porto is a great place for street photography. Unfortunately you have to be quick to capture people walking by. It's in a very busy part of town and the best vantage point on the opposite footpath is so narrow with a high wall on one side that you continually have to move into the equally busy road to let people get past. Despite spending a good half hour intermittently blocking the way for locals in intermittent rain, I missed what would have been a truly great shot; a clown in full costume and makeup, hands in pockets, nonchalantly walking by chatting away alongside a cowboy complete with hat and guns. No-one looked surprised. Don't ask me why, something to do with the university I think. I had to make do with photographing the ordinary denizens of Porto.
These two women were also photographers, walking up and down the area around Darling Harbour, like me, on the look-out for a 'Kodak Moment'. When they stopped for a spot of streetnapping they must have had me in mind. The contrasting poses alone would have made a worthwhile shot, but placing herself directly underneath the toucan was definitely not going to go to waste. This scene was actually very colourful but the foreground fountains were a major distraction. Converting to monochrome helped the scene gel better.
About half a dozen of these guys go from café to café in Essaouira every day playing the same few tunes and then pass a hollow drum around, hopefully to be filled with money. The notion comes easily that they're only able to play a handful of songs. Every year in May, Essaouira hosts a festival of gnawa and other African music on a stage in the main square. Though I've been to this town several times over three decades, I've never made it to the festival. However, I was fortunate enough to be shown some images of performances over the years by a local photographer and was surprised to see some of these street musicians playing alongside some of the featured artists on the main stage. It must be a hell of a comedown to play centre stage for a few days a year and then have to return to itinerant busking for a few coins.