Following on from Jonathan and still in a buoyant mood I set off on my latest detour from Monument back to work, taking in my newly discovered abstract backgrounds. Determined to use “the other one” sooner rather than later and coupled with the fact that today was a good day it came as no surprise when things panned out well.
As I walked up the street I could see someone loitering on the corner near “my” backgrounds so that was pretty promising to start with but I walked past him nonetheless so that I could look up the alley. This is no slight on Cal and I should point out that for several days I had it in my head that I wanted to photograph someone in a sharp suit against this background – no particular reason for this, it’s just a concept that looks good in my head. Mr(s) Sharp Suit will have to wait a while though as none were to be had.
So after walking a few metres past Cal I turned back and approached him confidently. He had no problem with the concept and readily agreed once he understood why but I didn’t have a card to give him as I’ve managed to lose one somewhere and I was already running low. Nonetheless I wrote down my Flickr account name (which made him smile) and my email address so hopefully he’ll have a look sometime.
I asked Cal if he would pose in front of the background but … uh oh!!! … he was waiting for a friend and didn’t want to move. This was important to me though so I pointed out that he could see them and they were only 50 yards away and he relented so we quickly wandered down and I took a few shots then we returned to his original spot where we stood and chatted for a while. En route to the background he asked how many strangers I had photographed and at that point it occurred to me that Cal was my 25th stranger … one quarter of the way … a minor milestone! I think he liked the fact that he was a "minor milestone" ;).
Cal is an English Literature student at Cambridge and is on holiday in Newcastle for a couple of weeks before going to stay with family in France for a bit. He tells me that even the holidays require a lot of reading but when your homework is something you love anyway that’s not so bad is it! We talked a fair bit about literature (from his perspective) and when I asked if he mainly read the classics he reported that he reads all sorts from medieval through to modern stuff. On holiday his authors of choice would be Vladimir Nabokov and Emily Bronte – I’ve read a couple of Nabokov novels (Despair and Lolita) but I didn’t mention this lest he tried to have an intelligent conversation with me about them – it was a very long time ago! I asked if he would ever read the likes of Jeffrey Deaver (for example) and was left in no doubt that the very thought made him want to “throw up” (his words). He found it sad that the beautiful works of bygone eras had been replaced with the formulaic “airport rack” rubbish (partly his words, partly mine but that was definitely the gist). He also picked on Dan Brown and I’m definitely with him on that!
In Cal’s 3rd year he will get more choice what he studies and will be focusing on TS Eliot (a work which I must and did confess that I have never heard of and now cannot remember).
After a bit and with my lunch break rapidly running out things seemed to come to a natural conclusion so we said our goodbyes – he wished me luck with my project and I him with his studies and off I went. Thanks for a great encounter Cal – I can’t believe that I’m now ¼ through this project but it’s good that it was a fun one!
This picture is #25 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page