Sunday, 17 February 2013

Chasing the dragon

Frui haven't run one of their mystery days for months now so I was keen to congregate again at a London train station and receive our mystery assignment. Today’s plan was to travel to Rochester Station photograph the late Chinese New Year celebrations in Chatham in the morning and then after a pub lunch head into Rochester to check out the castle and environs.

This morning’s challenge was to try and avoid just photographing the parade itself and turn the lens to crowd, the streets and the general detritus surrounding such an event.

I did take pictures of the other photographers and the increasing clumps of people congregating in the streets flanked by the mostly cheap and gaudy shops but the lure of the vibrancy of participants of the parade and their interaction with the crowds intrigued me most.

I liked the fact that some of the costumes were intricate and elaborate and then others were definitely not. Some of the routines were obviously well rehearsed, the elderly Chinese group elegantly demonstrating their t’ai chi moves counterpointed with the sharp cracks of their fans, the spiralling gyrations of the dragon and the exuberant lion dance. There was a sullen group in dark grey and black carrying an oddly formed snake. Various local martial arts groups had turned out to promote their clubs and an incredibly bubbly pink satin clad dance troupe who never tired of posing for the cameras though I didn't spot any dancing from them.

There were several mayors and mayoress all decked out in their robes heading the parade and attempting to deliver an inspirational speech to the masses but sadly it just couldn't be heard at all above the general cacophony and even the performers themselves were chatting during the efforts.

It was a burst of colour in a strangely uninspiring place, once the parade dissipated we reconvened to decide on our next photography opportunities.


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