A respected friend and colleague once said to me: ‘At our age it’s dangerous looking back at the past’. That struck a chord as I was considering revisiting a picture story I had shot almost 40 years ago and I really didn’t want it to turn into ‘all our yesterdays’. I decided the real danger was that once you start looking back you might never stop, and looking forward would be a thing of the past.
My dilemma was this: in 1983 I documented George Norris, a 19-year-old Rag and Bone man in Hull. We’ve been in touch ever since and he called me to say he was back on the carts, but this time with his 81-year-old father, George Snr, who had been collecting scrap since he was 13.
But I ditched any preconceived ideas and decided to go out with my cameras and see what happened. I also threw in a wild card: as well as shooting on 35mm digital I carried a Rolleiflex and shot black and white film. The attraction here being the square format and the slower pace of composition and shooting. Conscious that I’d be doing a Q&A on video, I also needed some B roll and would shoot that on my iPhone.
To help me sort out the chaos (day five, 10,000 steps) I got all the newly edited pictures printed and spread them out of the floor. The distraction of a drugs bust at a cannabis farm opposite colour printers Foto Worx helped me while away the time as the prints were made.