Now I know what regular followers of my project are thinking – oh yes, another trip out for Ivor’s "what’s the maddest thing you’ve ever done?" question … well no, I didn’t get around to it! But don’t worry, I have plenty to talk about anyway ;).
As part of my description of Kimi I made a comment about my strangers and tattoos but I realised afterwards that they don’t feature nearly as much as I thought they did – so it was time for another one. Today, I added another tattooed stranger and one heck of a lot of tattoos to my project.
When I first saw Nick I was immediately struck not only by his tattoos but also by his colourful and individual style. Seconds later he dug a camera out of his bag and walking into the middle of a pedestrian crossing he took a few photographs of a bus, much to the bemusement of the driver, before returning back to my side of the road. I approached and popped my question up front as usual … "why?" he replied with a smile and as I’ve commented before an answer like that is as good as a yes (with one recent exception in my experience) and sure enough he agreed as soon as I mentioned the project name.
No sooner had he introduced himself as Nick then he explained that he would also give me the name by which he is commonly known which is Naoise-Ryan, the gaelic version of Nick (although I didn’t find out what the Irish/gaelic connection was). At first I thought Ryan was his surname but I later realised that it is hyphenated, which explains why it was so important to him that I include it. I handed him one of my cards and asked him what he was photographing and whether it was the bus and he confirmed that it was and that he takes lots of photographs of buses as well as trains, highways (I think) and other transport related stuff and he has been all over the world pursuing this pastime. He has lots of such photographs and his computer at home is "full of them".
Naoise-Ryan took a lot of interest in my card and asked me to send him the pictures so I explained how he could get hold of them – he is by far my most interested stranger to date and described himself as quite narcissistic and self-obsessed. I began to understand a bit more in that respect as I googled him later (I quite often do this with my more interesting strangers) and on this occasion I was rewarded with a view of one of my strangers that I have not experienced previously. You are already armed with sufficient information so I will leave this as an exercise to the reader but tread carefully if you’re the shy and retiring type. If your eyes water then you found the same image that I did ;).
As I was taking some shots I started to ask about some of his tattoos and picked on the green one on his right side – I thought it was a set of wings but it turns out that it is the old logo for London Country Buses which Naoise-Ryan used to work for. He explained a bit about the logo: the central bullseye represents London and the bits around are the surrounding counties – as the company covered them all they decided to "put a roof over it", arriving at the logo that you now see. We were looking at the photo on my camera screen as he explained this and he also offered a reason for a couple of other tattoos – "Feral" simply because he is and "Mayday Verdict" because he was in court one Mayday for a traffic offence … the verdict was "got away with it".
Naoise-Ryan has obviously had a few encounters with the law but was at pains to point out that he would not harm an individual (as he put it "if someone dropped a fiver he would pick it up and give them a tenner if they needed it") but the "system" is different – that’s fair game! He also has a couple of prison numbers tattooed on his hand one of which portrays his number from a Latvian jail sentence. I didn’t find out or ask what this was for but did ask about how it compared to British jails and he replied that the standard of accommodation and food was poor but as a life experience he almost seemed to talk fondly of it – I don’t mean glamourising it in any way just that the people were the richest aspect of the experience.
When my home town cropped up in the conversation I learned that Naoise-Ryan has met Charles Kennedy several times and thinks quite highly of him and wanted to know my opinion of Alex Salmond. This coupled with his anti-establishment attitude made me wonder how politically active he was but it’s purely an interest – football and rugby don’t do it for him and nor do women anymore but politics and photography do.
As our encounter came to an end I shook hands with Naoise-Ryan and thanked him, stating that it was a pleasure meeting him … and it truly was, in the grand scheme of things I know nothing about him but he came across as a very genuine and colourful character, knowing what his weaknesses and strengths are and completely confident that he is who he is and the world can like it or lump it.
As I watched him walk away he took my card out and had another long look at it, which is cool, much as I love this project for my own enjoyment it really does make me happy when my strangers are also intrigued by the concept. I fully expect to hear from Naoise-Ryan again.
Naoise-Ryan, as I said – thank you very much for taking time out to help me with my project today – I enjoyed our chat and I hope that you like your portrait. If you would like to get hold of the original images then please get in touch – miraculously all 5 that I took are decent quality ;).
Please feel free to provide constructive critique on the technical aspects of this photograph.
This picture is #78 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