Chapter I.I – Feeding The Birds, London, 2013

Feeding The Birds At Marble Arch CRV

Feeding The Birds is a candid photograph taken at Marble Arch, London in late 2013. It is an image of one lady feeding a flock of pigeons which had congregated at the landmark.

The woman was braving the cold autumn weather, wearing a head scarf and jacket. Her hands were buried deep in her coat pockets, and periodically she would pull a handful of seed from within and scatter it on the ground for the birds to peck at.

That afternoon the swirl of life in London continued around her: double-decker buses rumbled down nearby Oxford Street, while tourists and travellers stopped to have their photos taken in front of the arch.

But this woman was not put off. Her focus was on the birds.

As a child growing up, the film Mary Poppins was a regular on our television screen. The woman in this photograph reminds me of the famous scene in that movie, where Mary Poppins sings to the children a melodic lullaby about a quirky old lady feeding the birds ‘on the steps of St Paul’s’.

For me this photograph is alluring because of how it shows a simple side to life in London; a moment of connection between human and animal amid a jungle of concrete, engines, and drizzling rain.

I wonder who this woman is, where she is now, and of her story; why she wanted to feed the birds, and how she felt as they fluttered around her head, eager for a peck of seed.

No doubt these questions will forever remain unanswered; but with this photograph, this brief moment of life in England’s capital will live on.

Photograph: Robert Virtue

Words: Robert Virtue

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Prelude

Images and words play huge roles in making the world go round – more of a role than what most people realise.

Whether they are films, photographs, or the things we see with our very eyes, images help shape our understanding of the world and our place in it.

Words are the same. They form languages, help us to communicate, express ourselves, and be amused, enraged or uplifted.

My passion for photography and writing has really blossomed into its own over the last decade.

From starting with a digital point-and-shoot camera, to now wielding a DSLR, photography and the fun you can have capturing a split-second of life has grown on me immeasurably.

Images – photographs in particular – have this ability to capture your imagination, draw you in and make you wonder about what is going on within the frame and what it means.

Whether in black, white, or colour, images are open for interpretation. Some people will love them, some will hate them. Some people will be overcome with emotions when they see a particular photograph, while others won’t. Either response is perfectly okay.

Words have the same effect.

People can read the same words as someone else, and take something completely different away from it. And that’s a great thing.

This project aims to meld the two – images and words.

Just like any piece of art, photographs should generate discussion, debate, and even more so, a stirring of the imagination.

Ideally, I want my photographs to get people thinking: What was going on at that place? Who was that person? What was their story? Are the people in that shot even alive anymore? How has the world changed since that camera shutter opened for a split second?

If you can come away from looking at one of my photographs or reading my writing thinking a bit differently about the world, then I’ve succeeded.

The following is a collection of the best and most interesting photographs I’ve taken over the years, and words which aim to give context about the image; but don’t let my words stop you from making up your own mind.

Enjoy.

Robert Virtue

2017

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