22 February 2010

You know you want to do it

Photographs from thisisphotobomb.com

When I finally get around to writing, I find myself fascinated with the primal parts of human nature; the parts of us we can't control. Fear, lust, desire for power, parental love, photobomb.

Yep, photobomb.

A deep, primitive desire, a base urge that screams into your hindbrain the moment you see a camera pointing at you by accident.

I was sitting in a coffee shop in Knightsbridge today, steaming slightly and complating the meteorological misfortune that had governed my site visits all winter. My last three site surveys had gone: snow, sleet, thunderstorm, and I was stuck in a touristy part of London paying inflated prices for a lunch whose main purpose was to entitle me to get out of the rain for half an hour. Okay, the tea and tuna melt were to get me out of the rain. The almond croissant was down to sheer bad temper.

So I sat on my tall stool facing the window, expecting my pocket to get picked any minute and glaring at the sullen grey sky that London does so well as I shoved overpriced calories into my mouth disguised as flaky pastry. My attention roved around the crowds, playing 'spot the worker' among the tourists--you know them; the fast walking ones whose body language says, "I wouldn't dream of saying anything because that would be rude, but please be so kind as to read my thoughts and get the hell out of my way because I actually know where I'm going"--when I realised that a woman over the road was pointing a little white camera right at me.

My first thought was: is any London tourist's experience entitled to pictures of a tired, grouchy daylight consultant looking like a waterlogged hamster? My second was: she's not actually pointing it at me. I'm in it by accident. She's pointing it at her man, who's standing outside Costa Coffee under a union jack umbrella.

I don't know what made a picture of Costa Coffee with an umbrella so appealing, but whatever floated their boat. Much more rain and they would be floating down the Thames on it like Winnie the Pooh, but that was beside the point.

And it was at that moment, staring into a little white camera belonging to a stranger, that I realised photobomb occupies a place next to rage and lust and hunger. A building block of human nature. A basic need to respond.

They'll find out when they upload their photographs whether I gave into it or not.