Following on my SOAP series – (Story of a Photograph)
Number 3: 8 Water Street
I sometimes wonder if talking about your own photographs is necessarily a good thing to do. It is hard not to feel egotistical, self-centered even when doing so. But photography is primarily about memories, our minds can be sieve-like, so many memories would simply drip into the ether were it not for photographs, and talking about those images brings those memories flooding back afresh, giving them a fresh re-boot so that the instants in time are never forgotten. Photography is simply the documenting of personal memories, if other people like your images then fine, but primarily it is a personal diary in picture rather than word form it seems to me.
So to todays photograph: I am not a fan of concrete as a material. It feels soulless, ugly, serves a purpose and nothing more, it is to architecture what open-mining is to the landscape; a brutality, a slap to the face of the earth and the beauty that surrounds it…
But occasionally you come across something, a building, a structure, where the designers have somehow created something worthwhile, something uplifting out of this most uncomely of materials. A structure that stops you in your tracks and fills your soul with imagination and possibilities. This image is 8 Water Street, Liverpool, GB. I would guess built-in the late 60’s or early 70’s. I was instantly attracted by its abstractness, its surreal facade. I remember standing in the street, luckily a fairly quiet one with little traffic, and feeling a need to get close, to shoot its substance rather than its form. It reminded me of something, but at the time I wasn’t sure what.
I was using a very cheap fixed-focused film camera at the time that I had picked up in a charity shop, I have better cameras but I am not a gear-head, any camera will do most of the time. The 28mm lens probably helped, wide enough to get some perspective. I clicked the shutter and then stood for a while not doing anything. As I stood there I noticed that the windows seemed to have a mirror-like coating so I wasn’t sure if office workers were at that moment staring back at me wondering what I was doing. I then went around to the front and took a couple of more shots before heading on.
When I finally got to develop the images I realised what it was it reminded me of, it brought to my mind rows of mobile/cell phones lined up on a table or maybe in a shop window. They didn’t have mobile phones in the early 70’s so I was intrigued to know what the inspiration was back then. If the designer is still around I wonder if they think it at all prophetic?
I guess I will never be able to pass it again without thinking of it as the – Phone-Building.