January 02, 2006
  The Pier

(Image copyright Hamish Reid).

Somewhere on the cold grey coast of England, sometime in the early 1980's? Not really.

I have a history (spanning several continents) of playing in, or being something to do with, bands. This time it was Handsome Poets, at the time -- the early / mid 1990's -- a somewhat well-known Bay Area British pop / rock band fronted by Stephen Duffy, a good friend of mine. Yes, I soon became guitarist / bass player / whatever in Handsome Poets, but this was taken a bit before that, as part of a set of publicity shots around Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland. So many band shots at the time stressed serious demeanours, gothic exteriors, urban decay, etc., etc., that I decided I'd take the whole band to Baker Beach and make them do silly stuff (with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, just to set the stage). Those shots worked wonders, and the session produced some of my all-time fave band shots. Maybe some later entry will work them over, too.

But a few months later we needed something a bit more sombre for the CD cover I was designing -- something that would give a feel for the Britishness of some of our music (Stephen, Dale, and I are all British, and the music has always been what was briefly called BritPop (a name I always hated)). I immediately thought of Berkeley Pier -- it's like a lot of the British equivalents, and, on a suitably grey day, it'd be a great stand-in for the horrors of the Essex or Kent coasts. And so it turned out...

This image was taken near the end of the session, when I was tired and cold, and is a classic case of serendipity -- almost everything I like about this image was accidental: the seagull (it just flew into the scene as I took the picture); the three rather jolly-looking women in the background looking like they're about to burst onto a rather emotional or difficult scene; the pensive-looking scene itself (nothing pensive about it -- they were all just starting to whine about how cold it was and why did they have to have another bloody photo taken?); Dale's slouch (he'd just complained about how his new boots where hurting his feet); Stephen and Lydia bunched together a little further back from Dale looking so serious. Only the way the pier angles across the image was planned.

We did a bunch more around the pier and park for other uses -- much more cheerful and pleasant-looking -- but for me this is the only one that survives.

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Hamish Reid is a photographer, designer, and software engineer living and working in the Jingletown district of Oakland, California. This is his full profile.

You can get hold of Hamish at xyzphotolalia at ylayalixyz dot com without the xyx's.

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