This time last week I was making my way to Broadstairs in Kent to fulfill my ambition to shoot the Dickens festival, this event had been shot by Tony Ray Jones back in the sixties and I was keen to view and photograph this event myself in the hope that It would increase my understanding of TRJ 's iconic works.
The thoughts of shooting a Victorian themed event at a time when the UK was governed by a political party that embraced Victorian values was a opportunity I could not afford to miss. I also thought that a few days at the traditional English seaside would be no bad thing.
The inevitable rail delays caused by derailment at Paddington the night before I traveled meant that I arrived in Broadstairs only minutes before the annual Dickens Festival was due to kick off !
Following a sharp intake of breath I started shooting the Dickensian event , as soon as I raised the camera to my eye I was struck by a strong sense of Deja-vu, I felt a strong sense of familiarity with what my viewfinder was delivering to my eye and what Tony Ray Jones had seen almost fifty years ago despite the vibrant colours reminding me of the reality of this surreal experience.
I deliberately did not refer to the Ray-Jones coverage of this subject in the weeks leading up to my trip although I did retweet one of his efforts, I was hoping to shoot this subject in a different way, however the more I shot the more I seemed to fall into the trap of paying tribute to my great photographic hero rather than creating anything new..
The following day I decided to move away from the Dickensian s for a few hours and shoot whatever came my way in a "Street" style and managed to pick up a couple of decent captures that contrasted greatly with the Victorian themed festival..
I have been surprised by the pictures I made last weekend especially once the colour has been removed, as I find the familiarity uncomfortable , I am now more convinced than ever before that it is time to become more forward looking with photography.
Revisiting the locations and events of former iconic shoots by admired photographers is a very interesting academic exercise, however I am now of the opinion following this weeks events that as a photographer you should never look back !