Brief background stories to photos.
Stand up for the boys in green
Ireland. June 2016. There's so much joy in the air on every street. Shouting, singing, dancing, cars hooting. Main roads are blocked by masses of humans, strangers celebrating together. Busses are paralyzed, cars are being jumped on, the drivers are loving it and willing people on. The Guardi, the police, are watching from a safe distance but are doing nothing. Just watching.
And why all of this mayhem and celebrations? All due to football. Ireland surprisingly beat the group stages of the 2016 Euro Cup, continuing to the knock out stages. The boys were playing so professionally, especially for such a small country with a population of only 4.5 million. Would a semi-final or even a final be on the cards, maybe Ireland's first Cup win? Hopes were high, emotions were high. Four days later they lost against France. The Euro Cup was hosted by France, so generally the mood in Europe was that France deserved it more. Not in Ireland though. Fans were disappointed, but with a quick amendment, the Ireland posters and supporters became Iceland supporters. There was a familiar feeling of having another small island, not too far away, do so incredibly well. Just like that, Iceland had a huge Irish fanbase. Until a week later. When Iceland too was kicked out by the eventual runners up of the Cup, France. That France lost the cup in the final round, gave the Irish-turned-Icelandic-fans much needed consolation in the end.
Hecklers and Pints
Having lived in Ireland for just over three years now, I still struggle to explain the concept of an Irish pub to outsiders. It is something you really need to experience to really understand.
The pub isn't only a place to drink and get drunk, but it is a communal space to relax, to meet friendly strangers, to bring your family. It is a space where strangers can instantly become friends, everyone can take the piss out of somewhere and it is normal for guys to buy other guys drinks, which I am still not fully used to.
I have spent so many times doing crosswords with strangers, talking people from the countryside about farming and hunting, only to then meet their daughter who is a tattoo artist in the city. There are always some surprises.
But all of Irish culture revolves around the pub and the church, the pub is the event hall for your family gatherings, it is the place to meet after the funeral, the Irish would probably even get married if it wasn't so damn Catholic.
In South Africa you wouldn't think about bringing a child to the pub. There, life revolves around the braai (BBQ) and the swimming pool or beach. Looking at different cultures it is interesting how each civilization has a focal point that is so important to them.
I had spent the day with a good friend of mine, Ronan, and as we had a day pint outside the pub in the relatively good weather, that one learns to cherish in Ireland, I took a photo of him. These three were sitting alongside to us and jokingly started heckling me about photographing Ronan. This is all it took to start this impromptu photoshoot.
The man on the left in the photo was shouting at me while I was pressing the shutter release, "Hey! Am I in this photo?" I snapped a few photos quickly as their expressions and mood were perfect. I was unsure if he was messing or actually mad, so I simply answered that he was. To which he very happily exclaimed, "Good!"
Friendly banter that I have only really experience in Ireland. The land of the friendly.
Rabbit Meat at a TV station
This week's Throwback Thursday takes me back 7 years ago, back to the time when I was a student and could only afford an analog SLR.
The photos were taken in Germany on the HQ of the ZDF TV station, a German equivalent of the BBC. The HQ is a highly secured little town, filled by dozens of security men and cameras. Walking across the town, you naturally come across numerous film sets, both indoors and outdoors. And as you walk from set to set, in a weird sensation of déjà vu as it all seems a bit odd that all the different shows are literally filmed several meters from each other in the exact same vicinity, you start noticing all the rabbits. And this is where the story starts making sense.
Around the whole town, are large gardens and walkways, these gardens are however, riddled with rabbits. Since they do not have any local predators, they just multiply like, well, rabbits.
To combat this infestation without resorting to poisons or a massive culling, the groundskeeper has an understanding with the local hunting group and allows them to hunt on their premises once a month. And so on that day, they arrived in 4x4's with their dogs, ferrets and hawks.
Having never been on a hunt before it seemed like a very random selection of animals, but it turns out to be a fairly common practice.
First, they use the dogs to sniff out the main borrows, then the ferrets rush down the tunnels to chase out the rabbits, and as they come racing out, the hawks swoop in for the kill. It all sounds like a very well structured and efficient operation. In real life though, at least half of the rabbits manage to escape, as the team work between these three animals can fail sometimes. However, this technique allows for a healthier rabbit population as usually only the sick and the old are killed.
The hunters were visibly enjoying the day and were especially proud of their hawks, gladly indulging you with all of the statistics of their hawk, knowing for instance how much it weighed to the gram.
Africa, Bureaucracy and an Arrest
Remembering on Throwback Thursday when I was travelling through the Western Cape on my own, in my stupid, tiny, crappy rental car that was terrible, but that I loved and adored. I was listening to my brand new Spotify playlist, that happened to be the best I ever made, and was embracing the country, the weather and all the adventures I was about to have in all the towns I've never been to.
On this wave of positivity I came across Caledon. I stopped, got a haircut and wandered around the town, photographing people.
In this photo, I was in the middle of an uproar, as the police came to arrest a parking guard. Parking guards offer a common service throughout South Africa. For a bit of change they guide you into the parking spot but most importantly, they keep an eye on your car and its belongings to ensure its safety.
In this particular case, the parking guard was not operating with any official papers or permission. In the eyes of the public and the crowd of this quite rural and very low income town where the most impressive aspect was that it had a casino, this paperwork nonsense was just incomprehensible. The guard was trying to earn a living by doing something constructive and not resorting to crime that is so abundant in this country.
The accusation was that the police were being racist, which on face value doesn't make too much sense, but the police are often still seen as a white force from the Apartheid era.
I felt bad for the car guard while documenting this series of events. It wasn't worth getting in trouble for, just over this bureaucracy, in a town where jobs are not readily available. I understand that there are laws and regulations for a reason, but in this rural area, I feel like the police could've focused their efforts on something a bit more important.