Like many photographers, I find it easy to get inspired to shoot when I’m travelling. And like many photographers, I often struggle to find something to photograph in my back yard. Familiarity is of course both a blessing and a curse. Because we know our own turf so intimately, it should give us an advantage in terms of knowing where to shoot, when the light may be good, when the weather is likely to be favourable, when something interesting may be happening in the area and so on. However, set against that is the fact that the very same familiarity tends to lead us to look without really seeing.
When I made this photograph a couple of weeks back, I was driving home from work. It was 01:40 in the morning, and I had been travelling for over 24 hours by planes, trains and automobiles: from Rio de Janeiro to London, then from London to Copenhagen, then on a couple of trains westwards across Denmark, and finally into my car for the final half an hour to my front door. I was running on empty having been awake for most of the journey; it was a bitterly cold Scandinavian night, and I was keen to get home to my family.
I have driven this stretch of road, a stone’s throw from my home, hundreds – probably thousands – of times before. As usual, I was looking but not really seeing – focusing on driving safely and on simply getting home. I don’t know what it was that first caught my eye, made me slow down and then finally stop the car, but for whatever reason, I began to see, and not just to look. A timely reminder to me that if we can remember to really pay attention and be receptive, images are available to us literally any time and anywhere in the humdrum of our every day lives.