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 how prevalent was 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.
Number Six: Where am I?
Number Two: In the Village.
Number Six: What do you want?
Number Two: Information.
Number Six: Whose side are you on?
Number Two: That would be telling. We want information.......information.......information.
Number Six: You won't get it.
Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number Six: Who are you?
Number Two: The new Number Two.
Number Six: Who is Number One?
Number Two: You are Number Six.
Number Six: I am not a number! I am a free man!
Number Two: [laughs]
Number Six: I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!
If none of the above makes any sense to you, you are definitely not an aficionado of the British 1960s surreal cult TV series 'The Prisoner'. For those who do understand what this all about this image was captured in April 2017 in the village of Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Wales (where the series was filmed), on the 50th anniversary of the first episode, including a re-enactment of the second episode. The rest of the images from that day can be viewed here.
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 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 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. Don't ask me why. I even missed a couple of nuns. I had to make do with 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 tambourine 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.