Tales of the Unintended
Sandy Hashimi our West Bay Discovery Centre Manager has been invited to produce some guest blog posts for Bridport Cottages . Some of which we have reproduced below.
One of the great things about working at the West Bay Discovery Centre, is the number of photographs that folk bring in to show us. Whether it’s a picture of the harbour taken 50 years ago or a cherished family snap on the beach, we encourage visitors to share their memories with us, all of which adds to the story of life in West Bay.
With a good number of photographs to hand, we were thinking about unwitting testimony; learning something from an object or picture that is unintended. As an example, I took this photo on my ‘phone recently when we had a very low tide. The focus was really the fishing boat and the wee rowing boat, but later I noticed three men at the far end working on the bottom of the harbour.
The Pier Terrace
The picture of Pier Terrace was taken specifically to record the fire in 1929, but we see that there was some sort of balcony around number 10. The photograph wasn’t intended to provide information about the building – other than it was on fire – but nonetheless it did. It started us on a search through old photographs of Pier Terrace to try to pinpoint when this balcony appeared, as it certainly wasn’t on those dated 1910 and earlier.
Clearly, the concept of unintended evidence has fed into novels and films – the traveller taking a picture of his companion, only to find later that in the far distance a shady figure has its hands fixed around the neck of a slender form. (It goes without saying here that if you do notice anything of this nature in one of your pictures, you should perhaps let the authorities know!)
What Else Do Pictures Tell Us?
Have you ever tried to figure out what time of day a photograph was taken? The picture doesn’t exist to tell you, but quite often you can work it out by the length and direction of shadows or the people around go about their daily life. Obviously, a photo of West Bay which includes St John’s Church clock really helps!
What If …
And how brilliant are photos anyway? When you look at them, you could wonder how different the image might be if the shutter was opened a few seconds earlier or later or the picture taken from a couple of inches to the right or the left. Perhaps the sun would have gone behind a cloud, that girl might turn away, the dog lay down, the wind calm and the flag fall flat. A photograph is a recording of a split second of time, and something, somewhere in that picture will be different in the blink of an eye.
So next time you check the pictures on your ‘phone, look carefully – you never know what you might have caught on camera.