In his book Some Cities, photographer, film-maker and writer Victor Burgin describes a short scene in a jazz club,:
"The dress looks like silk. Tight. Her face is angular, the nose prominent. She is leaving the table she shares with an older woman. Don't Blame Me. Now she is returning, striding past the chrysanthemums, through the thick smoke of cigarettes. One foot rests squarely on the ground; the other arrested in its forward motion, touches the ground only with the tips of the toes. The moment is gone. No camera has recorded it."
We don't need the photograph to conjure up the image - we can colour in the missing details from our imaginations - the dress is red, the hair is dark and swept up, the shoes are high, the music plays in the background. My picture will be different to yours, but no matter.
I used to feel a great sense of frustration about this catalogue of missed opportunities. If only....the light hadn't changed....the subject hadn't moved out of the frame....I had been quicker...I had my camera with me. Lately I have started thinking that perhaps it is no bad thing. Let it go, relax....not every moment needs to be seized or captured. It can be stored in the mind instead, and summoned up at will. Of course, other people will not be able to see it, but that's what words are for - it can be described, conjured up to live again. A picture is not always worth a thousand words.
Sometimes, now, I prefer just to look . After hours of being alert to photographic possibilities, it can be a relief to lay aside the camera and just use my eyes, letting my attention wander, not thinking of anything in particular, not worrying about the 'perfect moment'. Suddenly I see it and then it's gone, but it doesn't matter.
Some photographs I didn't take....
A woman in a red anorak and black backpack, her breath curling white in the foggy morning air
A carousel of red washing looming out of the fog, seen from a train window
A red bucket, glowing in the sunshine against the green of the grass, in the middle of an avenue of tall trees
Suburban back gardens, three separate rows of washing one after the other, each with one red T shirt
A woman in a bright green jumper walking past a road sign 'Greenway'
A small figure in a bright red coat, glimpsed through a dense tangle of tree branches at the edge of a wood
One bright Moroccan blue house wall, in a sea of drab London brick under a lowering slate grey sky
A picture may not always be worth a thousand words, but as this is a blog about photograpy, here are some which perhaps are.....