Although I seldom write fiction, I am a story-teller. Or maybe more accurately – as story-maker. I think it’s combination of curiosity and an obsession with narrative form, but I find myself looking at everyday things and wondering what lies behind the things I can see?
Office workers still at their desks late on a Friday night. Were they behind in their work? Or doing something behind others’ backs?
Erving Goffman (The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life) wrote about front and back-stage behaviours; about the way we present ourselves to others and the things we prefer kept private. We think about and use physical space in the same way. The front of the shop is open, welcoming designed to attract and invite. But out the back it’s a different story. In this photo of a back alley behind some designer clothing stores, the expectation of the building’s owner is probably “out of sight, out of mind”. However, in amongst the neglect, a street artist has has chosen to tell his or her own story behind the “official” facade.
I’m always slightly nervous about taking photos of strangers, and often end up with shots of their backs. In this case I suppose it’s appropriate. What is this man’s story? For whom was he waiting? What would their meeting be like? What lies behind the myriad little actions and decisions that got him to that place at that time?