No Im not emigrating dispite many offers of free one way passage to a country without an extradition treaty.
Ive mentioned in the blog before, my friend Stephen Maguire, a singer songwriter originally from Belfast but now based between Canada and here.
Ive photographed Stephen many times, mainly for his music promotional work as well as his latest CD “Irish Soul”. He even volunteered to act as model for me for some doctor type stock shots but the less said about that the better.
(Irish Soul is available on itunes – right Stephen, wheres that tour t-shirt you promised me!)
The gig and album photos have all been to a particular brief, with his last gig, it was in May Street Church so it was a mixture of promotional music photographs as well as showing something of the architecture of this old church. We have another couple of shoots planned which will emphasise the irishness of his music but not in the traditional view of the green leprechaun view of irishness. Stephen is from Belfast and there is no doubt that all of us of the same age carry some baggage with regard to this place. Its a place we love but its also a place where a lot of people emigrate from for various reasons, a lot of it in the past has to do with the troubles.
Some of us also emigrate for good reasons and Stephen is one of them. He met his Canadian wife Tera in Belfast whilst she was in intern for the local ice hockey team. I used to be involved in the supporters club for the team and thats how I came know Tera and then Stephen. As with everything in this small place you find out friends and families are intertwined and the whole ‘I recognise you from somewhere but I dont know where’ comments. Particularly if you have never met before, ever!
You may wonder what Im rambling on about but a couple of years ago Stephen gave me an acoustic version of his song ‘Streets of Belfast’. I thought it was a great piece to put to an AV slideshow of images of Belfast and got to work. I put the video up on youtube and my website and really forgot about it.
In his new album Steven has re-recorded the “Streets of Belfast” with full production, so I thought I’d rework the photo and audio slideshow as well with more up to date photos of Belfast. Ive put it up on youtube once again and the link is below so get a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the next three and a half minutes (more later).
I was familiar with Streets of Belfast but I hadnt heard the rest of the latest album. Stephen like myself is fond of a long story or two so he was telling me about waiting for his flight home to Belfast before Christmas. As he was standing in the queue for check in, with all the thousands of people and delayed, cancelled flights, he saw a soldier in the queue in front of him. The guy probably had the dust from whatever combat area he had just come from still on him. Stephen overheard the guy saying something like ‘ma’am, I just want to get home’.
Looking from behind at his combat boots, camouflage trousers, kit bag, Stephen said he thought of me and said if I was there I would make a picture of that scene and it reminded him of his song on the new album ‘Leaving’.
So I got a copy of the album and it was a couple of days before I could sit down and listen to it properly. I played leaving over and over again. It tells something of a personal story for Stephen but it also rings true for many of us. Particularly poignant in the current economic climate in Ireland where once again we export our greatest natural asset, our people.
Of course its not just the physical act of leaving that the song applies to but for things like going to university, getting married etc.
Then it was a case of marrying the photos up to the video. It was an interesting project as the Streets of Belfast one was straightforward, tying the images there of a fixed place in with the song. The Leaving one had to have a good balance of not just Irish/Belfast images but also ones that would appeal on both sides of the Atlantic (and perhaps be recogniseable) as well as internationally.
As usual I put too many images in the original draft so there were a few refining emails then sending out the video to a few people to get their views. Ive included the final version below, hopefully it does the song justice, so go get another cup of tea or coffee and sit back and watch.
more irish related stock photos here
more ireland stock pics here
more general daily life stock photography images here
more conceptual stock photographs here