The Crumbum Candy Store of Death


Here’s the story of wrath, photography, and a jetpack.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for the photographers of this world that venture into the heart of war to capture the rawest images of horror. Some even giving their lives for their art. But I’m not a war photographer. I’m an amateur city and landscape photographer. So I do not expect to be chased down a road in northeastern England, in 2015, for taking a photo of an ordinary building. This is not Normandy or Chechnya. I could’ve been killed! “Oh, he died doing what he loved.” “Where was he? Syria, Iraq?” “Northeast England.” “Oh.” Nobody wants to die taking a photograph. I want a cool death. Like a jetpack test gone wrong. Pressed the wrong button and I zoomed off into space. Now that would be cool…

Admittedly, not many people stop to take a photo of an industrial estate, but that’s what I like photographing. Raw and unadulterated industry and the decay of time. The cold hard edges of steel and concrete contrasted against neglect and regeneration. An observer of a moment captured in time, not a participant. I find that beautiful. Every landscape has a story to capture, no matter what is in that landscape, whether it be trees or a dull, grey concrete warehouse. Every molecule of this world is interesting. And sometimes angry, as many tens of billions of them, in the form of a gang of angry men, chased me. If people get that angry over a little photo, then I weep for humanity, I really do.

It was a car garage, so when they started shouting at me, I immediately decided to, colloquially speaking, leg it. They have all manner of potential weapons. If a Walking Dead zombie scenario happened, I’d find the nearest car garage. It’s a candy store of death. Tyre irons, wrenches, spanners, screwdrivers, hacksaws, that welding thing – even air compressors that you could stuff into the zombie, turn on and blow them up. Where you stuff it is up to you. And acids and other chemicals. Used to clean. And petrol! Bombs galore. I’ve thought about this too much, haven’t I?

I knew all this. So when a garage full of burly and angry men started shouting at me for taking a photo of their building, from such a distance you couldn’t even make out the men, I did not stop to think, ‘Ah, yes, I fancy a nice chat with these lovely men.’ What my brain actually said to me was, ‘Holy shit, run for your life!’ That said, being blown up by an air compressor is a pretty cool way to go…

I can’t understand why they were so angry. Surely a friendly hello and polite questioning would’ve sufficed. “Oh, hi there, what are you doing?” “Oh, I’m just taking some photos. I don’t sell them because they’re pretty darn terrible, but is that okay? You can’t even see the workers. Here, I’ll show you.” “Oh, that’s fine, carry on.” What’s wrong with that? What happened to people? “He’s taking a photograph! KILL HIM!”

I didn’t sign up for this. Some would argue that’s like a vigilante saying “I didn’t sign up for taking the law into my own hands”, but it’s not. It’s like a professional knitter being arrested for knitting the word ‘crumbum’. The worst that happened to me before all this was a policeman telling me to stop taking photographs. I said ‘no’ and carried on. “I will have to take that camera off you”, he continued, citing some terrorism law. I deliberately mumbled ‘I’d like to see you try’, mumbled because I’m not an anarchist or a hippy – you know, typical troublemakers. I was photographing the town’s new police station being built. Apparently, that’s illegal. Who knew?

The people chasing me gave up after a couple hundred yards. That was because I ran straight into the roughest part of town. It’s a bit like stealing one of those old time bombs from the cartoons, with the wick taking a comical amount of time to burn. And the people you stole it from are chasing you. And to escape, you run straight into a fireworks factory. Sure, they’ve stopped chasing you, but there’s a very obvious reason why.

Oh, but I’m fine. I may not have signed up for this but I’m sure as hell not putting down my camera any time soon. I don’t photograph as much as I’d like to. What I usually photograph are building projects as they progress and post them online. I get immensely excited about it. I once went out on my birthday to do this. Best birthday I’ve ever had. Most young’uns would rather go to a discotheque, have promiscuous relations with strangers and get drunk, but not me. No, just the sheer sight of all those diggers, workmen and scaffolding makes me all warm and tingly inside. Like a little kid discovering Santa Claus making out with your mum on Christmas Day. What? Hey, that’s awesome. Not only is your step-dad Santa, but you will also get all the best presents. Think of how popular you’d be in school, too. Shame Santa isn’t real. Anymore. Who knew Rudolph was going to turn on him like that?

I know you think I’m weird. But I love photography. And all photographers, both professional and amateur, will tell you, it’s a love unexplainable and eternal.

I spend a long time planning my photography excursions. The routes and what I’ll photograph. And I spend a ridiculous amount of time cleaning my camera and all 19 of my lenses. I’m very meticulous and quite anal about the whole thing. To me, my camera is what that ring was to Gollum. And it’s not easy, readers. My town is not a major city, therefore, it’s very rare to see people out and about taking photos of the town. So when I do, I get people staring at me and some even shout and mock me. For someone as shy as me, that is not an easy thing to endure. You feel embarrassed, self-conscious, naked and sick. We spend our entire time trying to get people to ignore us. And there I am flashing me camera about. Spending time fiddling with the settings and trying to find the right lens. All by myself. It doesn’t half get you noticed.

So why put myself through this hell? Everything I go through I have to figure out in my own head because I have literally no one to talk to, no friends or anything. You’d think I’d try to reduce the amount of anxiety on my shoulders, not increase it, along with my blood pressure, by picking up my beloved camera. But I do it because I love photography and because others depend on it. If you love something, nothing should stop you from enjoying it. Providing it’s legal, of course.

On the forum where I post my building progression photos, there are only a handful of posters and maybe 10 to 20 new posts a month. That’s it. I’m the only one taking photographs but the feedback is wonderful. It’s a small community of five or six posters but it makes me happy. They’re some of the closest people I have to friends and they’re wonderful. So don’t let others define you and don’t let your own limitations stop you. It’s never going to be easy photographing something in a town centre with hundreds of people looking at me. But I’ll be damned if I let it stop me. And as for those bullies chasing me? I hope they’re reading this. Because I’m not afraid to fight back. Prepare for my wrath.

You’re all a big bunch of crumbums.

Yeah, I went there…

German born American photographer and photojournalist, Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995), once said, “When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”

Peace Out :|:

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. You can leave a comment and/or like this post below, or by clicking the title on the top of this post if you are on the archives page. Likes and follows greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other two blogs:

To Contrive & Jive
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post

Hark Around the Words
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post


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