85mm f1.4. Somewhere in Kilburn. November 2009. Kodak Portra 800.
I think it’s on Quex Road, one of the junctions off Kilburn High Road. There is a little cafe by the corner, and on Sundays, two old ladies park themselves (with their motorised wheel chairs) outside to fag and drink coffee, or attempt to anyway. I started noticing her after about a year of frequenting this passage, since it is also near the bus stop that takes me to Selfridges.
If there were a ‘moment’ when I felt like this street photography malark was ‘taking away’ or stealing from someone, it was this kind of guerrila portraiture, trying to capture her in her element.
I think I’m still such a baby when it comes to photographing people, instead of going up to her, and connecting and chatting with her, getting to know her, basically to do the respectful thing to simply as for permission, I didn’t. I chose the treacherous route instead.
But I think she had always sensed I was going to do this. I actually stood in front of her, albeit gazing anywhere but at her, and at that moment, I felt I was like a predator circling on this wounded animal, actually predator is the wrong world, more like a poacher, a vulture, a scavanger.
As I lifted my camera, she looked as if she was tracking my every move.
I make the exposure, and walk away, feeling ashamed of what I’d done.
First time I feel bad about photography really, and it made me think about the process, the impact and the endgame… what the fuck am I trying to achieve with this work?