Photo booth on the seafront at Porthcawl. When I photographed this I was trying to get three elements – the image of the bearded man on the side, the booth itself and then the reflection in the mirror outside. I first tried focusing on the reflection, then the details of the booth, these two pictures show both attempts.
If Coney Island had been the haunt of American photographers from Weegee to Walker Evans, Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin all I had was its namesake in Porthcawl, Coney Beach. I went there one day with the aim of taking photographs but found it hadn’t yet opened for the season. There were men everywhere repairing and checking the various rides. I walked about taking photographs, no one challenged me or asked me to leave. I was just a girl with a camera. If questioned saying I was a student seemed to reassure people, as if ‘a student’ was thus only a learner and probably wasn’t even allowed to put film in her camera.
This photograph taken in Porthcawl in the mid 80s is a simulacrum. It was taken at a time when I was thoroughly absorbed by photography, not only shooting my own pictures but pouring over the works of other photographers too. This picture now looks like an inferior version of a Lee Friedlander. I never set out to copy another artist’s work but it’s impossible not to be influenced. After looking at so many urban images your view of the world changes and the possibilities of any given subject changes too. So an open door becomes a framing device, the mirror on the wall the place where your reflection naturally arrives and so you catch yourself semi-accidentally in the act of taking a picture.