Updated: May 15, 2018
Dean #4/100 Strangers
I'm not sure if Dean approached me or I approached him as I strolled alongside the river bank adjacent to the Council House in Nottingham. Dean was campaigning for the Canal and River Trust along with one more colleague. I was mustering the courage to ask if I could take a photo, when much to my relief, this stranger addressed me first. He very politely asked if I'd be interested in learning more about the Canals and River Trust and the important work they are doing since the government stopped funding the upkeep of these spaces in 2012. In the interests of total honesty and full disclosure I declared my motives for being there and described the 100 Strangers project. Dean was a little uncertain about being photographed so I felt it rude to insist. As his campaign had some interest for me, I stayed to chat anyway.
Dean is very well informed about the (poor) conditions of canals and rivers and the wider social and environmental benefits of maintaining these habitats. I can't remember the stats he hurled at me but it sounds like there are several hundred miles of canal and river stretches that are in danger of being neglected and falling into an unusable state. This would prevent people from using them. It would also be devastating for the wildlife that is sustained by this environment, as well as the leisure and health benefits people derive from using these places. I spent some time listening to the interesting history and facts Dean shared with me. I didn't need convincing that this was an important piece of work, worthy of public support. As someone who loves cycling by canal and river sides I would hate to see these facilities disappear. However, I had no idea that these spaces were so important for wildlife and the environment or that they were endangered. It was lovely to chat to Dean who agreed to be photographed after the ice was broken. As we chatted my admiration for this young man kept growing. He was not only very committed to the work he was doing, he had given a lot of thought to the issues that it raised. His views were well supported by critical argumentation and evidence. We agreed that caring for the environment and animals was essential to our common humanity, even if politically we all had different views about other issues. It all links up, as Dean explained. Quite an edifying encounter and I think the photos turned out quite nice too. So thanks Dean if you're seeing this (I forgot to take his email to send him a link sadly).
It was a grey day and the sky and river behind us was a lot brighter than the light on Dean's face so I had to use the camera flash to adjust the exposure. This was not ideal but I think it worked.
This picture is #4 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page