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“Boom!”
Mamiya RZ67 ProII, 110mm f2.8, Ilford Delta 100

“Boom!”

A gun — or at least two fingers for a barrel and a thumb for a hammer — is pointed at my face. The mock report echoes on the concrete wall that divides Piccadilly Gardens. The “gunman” laughs and starts to walk away with a cocky swagger.

“Cheers, mate” I say out loud. Inside, I’m swearing, and my heart is pounding. Just the day before there had been shots fired on Deansgate. I’ve only just started walking around with my RZ67 nestled under my arm, and I feel vulnerable, angry and stupid.

A beat, and a though occurs,

“Hang on mate,” I say to the gunman’s receding back, “what’s your name?”

He looks startled, uncomfortable. He might have expected angry confrontation, but not this. He takes my proffered hand, shakes it slowly.

“M’name’s TJ.”

“Okay, TJ…” here goes, I think, what’s the worst that can happen… “Let me make a picture of you.”

“What, man?”

“Let me make a picture of you. You shot me; only fair I get to shoot you.” I smile, hoping that my fading terror doesn’t show.

With a laugh, he agrees. First frame, he’s fierce, tough. Then he pauses for a second and asks “what’s this for?”

“Nothing; this is just personal work. I just like making pictures of people.”

He softens a bit. Not much, but he no longer looks so tough, now there’s something else in his eyes.

Two frames. That’s all I need. Besides, I’m always in mind of the fact that I only get 10 frames to a roll on the RZ. I thank TJ, shake his hand.

“This better not be for the poh-leese, man” he says as he leaves.

Mamiya RZ67 ProII, 110mm f2.8, Ilford Delta 100