Chance and serendipity are central to my photographic practice. Absolutely essential. I had planned out my presentation regarding ideas for my final project before reading this week’s material. And suddenly my presentation was considerably shorter as I had spent some time discussing the definition and practice of psychogeography. I even had the same two quotations from Merlin Coverley and Robert MacFarlane. Travel photography that takes in the major sights is, more often than not, just like karaoke or painting by numbers – satisfying enough for the participant but not exactly art; not saying anything new. This is what I found much of my travel photography to be. My interest in psychogeography actually predates my obsession with photography by many years – back to the time I first lived in London in 1997 when I consumed the books of Iain Sinclair and Stewart Home like oxygen (as far as I know Will Self hadn’t really got onto the pschogeographic wagon at this point). One of the few things I miss about living in London is getting lost. Intentionally. I have tried it in Dubai, but given the preponderance of massive 14-lane superhighways where other cities would have normal roads, it is hard to go beyond your immediate area on foot. I still regularly go to different areas of the city and just wander. Except when it gets too hot.
My travel photography now revolves around being a pedestrian. I spend most of the time I am in a new city or a new country walking, with no particular aim, and photographing what I see as I pass. Even in the most obviously touristic destinations, I have been able to tip my hat to chance for some of the photos I have managed to make.
In terms of arbitrary parameters, the only time this has happened was on a trip to Pripyat and Chernobyl int he Ukraine. My main camera failed and I was left with the (still superb) Fujifilm X100S I was carrying as a backup – despite only having a 35mm equivalent lens, I still managed many shots I was very happy with. I now frequently think of traveling with just one fixed lens camera, but when it comes down to it I have always been to scared.
As the heat dies down (at least a little bit) in Autumn and Winter, I intend to work with to photographer friends in Dubai on themed photo weeks and photowalks.