Permanent Tourist

The personal website of Mark Howells-Mead

It’s cold and wet, and the first snowfall is here. I drove over the whitened mountain pass at Brünig to go to Lucerne today, visited the Christmas market and took my freshly-serviced X100V with me in the hope of getting some Christmas scenes. I seem to try every year to take some picturesque Christmas scenes, but somehow have a lot of difficulty in doing so.

In my mind, Christmas scenes should be old-fashioned and lacking in modern aspects. But wherever I look, there seems to be something spoiling each potential view. Where the snow is deep and crisp and even, the scene isn’t Christmassy; where the glittering lights and Christmas trees are around, there are modern shop frontages and people in brightly-coloured puffer jackets. Christmas markets are nice to visit, but they’re all full of people getting in the way and much more suited to buying wooden trinkets and melted cheese than trying to capture a scene for a future December page on a calendar.

But it doesn’t matter in the end. Images are for my own pleasure these days and the experience is usually more important than the image. I capture the scenes I like and don’t try to force a scene which I don’t find interesting or notable. When I was in my mid-twenties, I worked in an off-license on weekend evenings and drove up to London to capture pools of light in the dark city, when most other people were drunk or asleep. These pools of light are still what draw me, and it was they which caught my eye during the last quarter-of-an-hour in the cold, wet streets; much more than the twinkling fairy lights on the restaurants or the wet snow dripping from the market tarpaulins.

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