#25 – Where there’s muck there’s brass!

Supermarket rubbish, France. [Alamy image ref. B4P8XB]

It was one of those half-day Monday mornings… the specialist workshop on my shopping list for five specific bolts for a replacement chain wheel on my fixie bike was closed until after lunch, so I had an hour or two to kick my heels… or, as it was a sunny day with a clear French blue sky, search out some potential subjects for image stock.

It turned out quite well… cruising around from car-park to car-park I took around a hundred shots of a couple of dozen store name boards and fronts which edited down to over thirty images for Alamy. And a few have since sold for use in annual trade directories covering the Poitiers / Chatellerault (Vienne département) area of France.

What always strikes me as funny is that the most unattractive views and ugly details can make very saleable shots… although, when I think about it, much of the environment we work in is quite a mess visually… so perhaps published reminders of how we transform the world with our rubbish acts as a timely message that something has to be done to cut down on the packaging of excess consumption soon or it will eventually swamp us all!

However, with this particular image… I had taken a good selection of images of the “InterMarché” superstore frontage from various angles, when I spotted towards the goods delivery entrance perhaps fifty large bundles of compressed cardboard packaging awaiting collection for recycling. There being no-one about (lunchtime for the back-room workers) I was able to take my time in selecting an interesting angle with regard to the sun and shadows. Unfortunately, the best angle included tall lampposts… the worst of which I was tempted to clone-out in PhotoShop.

Incidentally, for a couple of years most of my stock shots were made with the fast, heavy and expensive 14~24mm f/2.8 Nikkor zoom. But, I eventually came to a decision to sell it because it was too noticeable – creating unwanted attention from subjects – and too vulnerable – attracting unwanted attention from dodgy characters who, if they had prised it from my cold, dead hands, would have probably flogged it for £25 down a dark back alley. Although the latter is a bit far-fetched, what also strengthened my decision to sell was that it became very awkward to carry whilst cycling on my non-touring style gear-less cycle. Bombing downhill with legs pedalling furiously (I ride a fixed-gear remember) created painful bruising in the ribs region with almost 2,000 gms / 4 lbs of solid metal and glass (attached to a D300) slung over one’s shoulder. I eventually downgraded to a small, cheap 24mm f/2.8 Nikkor which, as well as being pocketable in my smart jacket, released me from being overcautious in crowded foreign places. I did similar with my equally cumbersome 70~200 f/2.8 Nikkor… but that’s another story for another Sunday.

Nevertheless, the image was licensed by Alamy for a use in a Canadian textbook with a print run of up to 10,000 1/4 page size inside (plus an e-book) under my “a la france” pseudonym. That, and a handful of others from that lunchtime made the shopping trip very worthwhile… including spending time photographing rubbish. As that old Yorkshire saying goes… “Where there’s muck there’s brass!”


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