Exhibitions of street photography can offer a rich variety of inspiration for writers. A visit to the Tate Modern and the William Klein/Daido Moriyama exhibition on 1st December certainly provided me unexpected insights into one of my characters.
Klein has a distinctive approach to street photography, using a wide-angled lens to cram as much as he can into each shot. He wants to create the sense that the viewer is jammed in amongst the crowds. It was the faces that jumped out at me, one or maybe two in a crowd, often looking lost. Loneliness spotlighted. Writing in the cafe, it was this sense of being lost that emerged in the internal voice of a character who is, on the outside at least, a strong and confident man.
Moriyama’s collection entitled Tales of Tono was interesting as it was inspired by a collection of folk tales published in 1910. Moriyama felt drawn to the place after reading the book. He described the town as ‘a place that evokes a mysterious world, strangely combining narration and lyricism, reality and fantasy’. I found some of his photographs disturbing, creating a sense of dislocation—this feeling wound its way into my writing, asking questions that I found difficult to answer at the time. I have spent time working through those questions and gained a deeper understanding of the motivations of a key character in my book.
Inevitably I ended up in the Gallery Shop. Here I bought a Moriyama postcard entitled Another Country in New York, showing the image of a bridge duplicated and stacked vertically, one above the other. It is now pinned with all the others that serve as inspiration—the idea of mirror-images and reflecting natures is certainly relevant in my writing. I also discovered a book of short stories inspired by photographs of vacated spaces: Still edited by artist/photographer Roelof Bakker. He invited writers to select a photograph from his project Still and write a story giving the image/place a fresh meaning. I’ve read the first three stories (out of twenty-six) and love the way the image has been re-imagined into a new world.