Where were you..

Mr Page over on ManchesterPhotography beat me to it with his ditty on Johnathan Olley's Sea Defences here. I will write about Johnathan Olley at a later date as we share the same gallery space and have the occasional chitty chat. Like Mark over on MP, I too am surprised that more photographers have not covered UK events like the flooding in Cumbria (may be someone has, but I have my doubts). But after a little thought I have come to a few conclusions as to why British disasters are often rarely documented unlike such events, for example, as earthquakes, famine and in particular Katrina which saw a vast number of photographers flee to the scene, some albeit for the wrong reasons to profit from the unfortunate..

When my hometown of Carlisle was flooded in 2005 and subsequently cut off for five days from the rest of the country without electricity, fresh water and other supplies I always regretted that I was unable to return to the UK to document such an event (I was living in the US at the time). Had I somehow been able to return I would of documented as much as possible and made sure any money made went back to the city (a photographic book was made from local peoples photographs, the proceeds going to a set up flood charity). I had thought the same about the recent events but felt unable to get there in time being stuck down in London keeping in mind I would of had to gain access, press passes etc..

For me its always been about timing, basically I am never there. But I also think that in all honesty disasters here in the UK never seem as dramatic. Lets face it, Katrina was like a movie set, and all those images where like works of art. I really dont think the same could be said for a flood in Cockermouth (of course this does not mean it is any less worthy). As a comparison I do think the US tends to Hollywoodise everything which is pretty vulgar in my opinion. Whereas we Brits tend to move on and try to forget about it.. My good friend John Darwell produced a fabulous book on the events of the Foot and Mouth outbreak (again in Cumbria), but no one is interested in that now. The Foot and Mouth incident was an event which had to be documented but people are more interested in the series John shot in Chernobal over twenty years ago, you see that was epic like Katrina, again its like a film set..

At the end of the day it all comes down to one thing, the Visual. If it looks good, people tend to be more interested. But just because it looks photographically dramatic, doesn't mean its any less dramatic than a tragedy like the floods in my homeland..

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