Following on my SOAP series – (Story of a Photograph)
Number 6: The Caravan
For about eight years from 2004 onwards my parents lived out part of their retirement in Spain, and then due to missing home and family returned to Britain. For a few years when they first returned they lived on a caravan park in the North Wales resort town of Llangollen (pronounced Clan-gollen in the Welsh tongue); a place of deep valleys, wooded hills, a meandering tranquil river and the many delights of the town itself. I personally loved it when they lived here, I would visit as often as I could, if only for a few hours; it always felt like I was going for the first time whenever I went, so you can imagine my disappointment when they announced one day that they were leaving for good.
Shortly before the day arrived I made one last trip to spend the day with my parents in Llan (as it is more commonly known). We drove into town and had dinner, then went for our usual stroll along the river before heading back to their caravan-park nestled as it was in the midst of a disused quarry with its towering rocky backdrop and green-enveloping splendour. As night fell and I said my goodbyes I made my way to the car outside and noticed as I did so a small spindly fir-tree that was sitting on the patio opposite the door; Illuminated by the moon and the porch-light it was casting a shadow against the neighbouring caravan. I immediately wanted to photograph it, at first for no other reason than I liked it; but as time has passed it has become something more symbolic, an image that is the trigger to fire my memory bank of all the wonderful times I and my family had there.
To me, these are the images that matter most. It isn’t the best of photographs, it was kind of rushed, composition could have been better, it is a little out of focus I guess, but I treasure images like this far more than, say some random shot that I may have taken of a person walking down the street.
Incidentally, caravan dwellers around the world can be thought of in different ways. In the USA for instance they can sometimes be seen as second class citizens, people who can’t afford to live in a real house, they use terms such as trailer-trash to describe them. Here in Britain things are a little different, people actually choose to live in caravans even though they don’t have to, simply because many sites are situated in green and rural areas and are generally more interesting than living in some nondescript suburban neighbourhood. Many see them as a retirement option. Just thought it was worth mentioning.
So, back to the photograph. This was also one of the photographs that first gave me an appreciation of colour-photography, before this I shot mainly BW. I became intrigued by the overall green-tint and the squares of deep red and yellow framed by the windows; a surreal vision it seemed to me. There is also a warmth about the scene, a welcoming scene that has you wondering about the occupants who at that moment could have been sat around the table enjoying an evening meal or watching a movie, and I find myself imagining their happy lives. These thoughts may not be obvious to everybody, I guess photographs are subjective and personal, everybody has their own thoughts and feelings.
It is how it should be, it is what makes us human.