Photos taken in and around Ware, Hertfordshire.
Photos of people waiting at a busstop, gazebos, Fanhamm's hall, and apartments overlooking a graveyard taken in and around Ware, Hertfordshire.
People waiting at a bus stop on Ware High Street.
Gazebos in Ware.
Fanham's Hall near Ware.
Apartments overlooking graveyard in Ware.
I have been meaning to photograph Ware since we moved to Enfield some 10 years ago. It’s only a few miles up the main road going past us towards Cambridge. It’s been occupied since 4000BC. It has a history of being a coaching inn town, then more recently for producing malts, and many grade I or II listed buildings.
It was a gorgeous day last Thursday, so I decided to put some stock shots in the can (OK, on a flash card!). I took a few of a former malting mill and stumbled upon the statue of a malter, which I wanted to photograph, but it was under shade, so I went off to do some other scenes, and return later in the day.
I returned to find a big, burly and heavily tattooed guy sitting on a bench behind the statue reading a newspaper, so I decided to come back. When I did return an hour or so later, he was still there reading his paper, so I took a deep breath and asked him if he would mind moving to another bench just for a few seconds while I took a photo of the statue (you really have to think twice if you are brown, black or Polish these days when talking to white, working class people — sad; thanks Nigel Farage and David the Oink-Oink Cameron!). He said no problem as he was nearly finished reading the paper. BTW, I used to work as a malter, he added. I asked him to wait as I’d like to hear about it.
So he told me how they malted, and what heavy work it was and how 18 stone bags were manhandled onto lories by one man and transported. Then his place of work closed down and he was employed by a new, fully automated malting mill built by the Germans. He eventually retired once that shut down. I said I’d already taken a photo of a conical funnel that you see on top of the malting mills (now turned to flats) but where’s the one with two on the roof? I’d seen an image while googling Ware. He kindly pointed me to it (I’d missed it earlier on my walk).
It was a nice coincidence, meeting a malter, and overcoming your preconceptions about race (OK, it doesn’t always work out so well. I have had abuse from working class people who were clearly, to me, racist, and also being stopped by the police on more than one occasion purely because of the colour of my skin — they think I’m a Muslim taking photos for nefarious reasons, totally ignorant of the fact zillions of photos already exist, or can be taken surreptitiously with a smart phone or a lapel camera and not by someone lugging a professional camera; besides, I don’t look anything remotely like a Muslim, if you disregard the colour of my skin, the white pyjamas and shirt, the long beard, the shaved moustache, and the skull cap, I look just like any typical Christian).
I also met a very old native. He was coming out of the church I was photographing. He was walking with the help of a stick, down a very long path towards me. I lowered my camera and waited. He saw me and shouted, ‘You’ll have to wait a long time!’ Eventually, he arrived at the gate. So we started chatting. Turned out he was christened in the church, and said most likely he’ll be buried in it. Had lived all of his life in Ware. Not many people can claim to live and die in one place these days.
I find people do talk if I come out of my shell and start a conversation, and obliging if I request they move, which I do rarely but with the advent of smart phones, they do tend to take root right where you don’t want them. At times, I shoot several and then I combine them in Photoshop and mask the people who are spoiling the photo. For example, I liked the street scene of the people waiting in the bus stop (see Ware album) but not the ones walking behind. So I took several (need a steady hand or a tripod!) and then masked out the walkers. Of course, you can only do it if people move. It’s when they stop to look at what they’ve taken, or just chat on their mobiles in one spot that’s problematic. Me, I never take root in front of a well known site — OK, maybe the odd 20 minutes while waiting for the light, or the people to move.
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