This is not the place to get political and that certainly isn’t my intention. But politics is about how we live our lives, and it is inevitable that the changes of the past year (Brexit, Trump and who-knows-what-next) will impact in even the most unimportant areas of those lives. Like a photography website.
So while I’m busy not jumping on a soap-box and getting all political, I do want to share an observation which, I am quite sure, is not unique to me.
Somehow, we have very quickly found ourselves in a time that seems riven with division, seeking reasons to be apart. The powers that be are busy drawing up virtual drawbridges and building actual walls. And yet, through the magic of the internet, ordinary people can communicate at any time of day or night, distance no object. Language barriers are instantly dissolved by online translation. Even more than that, the immediacy of a photograph transcends language. Perhaps it is even a universal language photography.
I can view images taken this morning, from the other side of the world, from the deepest oceans, even from outer space and all in the comfort of my own home. I can communicate directly with the photographers (the artists) themselves. And the same with those who view my images.
Social media enables photographers to develop a regular following. These followers provide criticism and support; feedback which enables photographers to develop and hone their skills, should they choose to listen. While an open shop window or never=closing museum such as this could be overwhelming it can also support, affirm and challenge in the best possible ways.
As countries and politicians seem to be shoring up defences and building walls - both virtual and real - it is heartwarming to receive comments of appreciation and support for images taken in London, Surrey, or wherever ... and then viewed on screens in far flung places.
Comments from the most exotic of places from people with the most exotic of names. Sometimes I can't tell whether the name is male or female. Or even whether it's a first name or surname. Sometimes I can't even tell the language of the name or begin to make sense of the character's on the screen. Yet, I know I’m sharing a common language with a fellow photographer which is helping to further understanding - not just of their photographs and hone but of the similarities and differences we share across this divided globe.
The power of a photograph is in its immediacy - no thousand words to read. It’s heartening that these photographs are now going further by bringing people together for whom photography is the only common language. That's got to be a good thing. The more bridges the better.