I’m behind with my blog posts this week, partly due to a nasty cold but also because I’ve been sorting out a new venture. You may have heard of Airbnb – it’s a site where you can list your spare room for holiday rent, as in a kind of informal bed and breakfast. You can offer anything from a sofa bed with nothing else provided to full professional bed and breakfast, and set your own prices for it. People book through the website, you get some spare cash, they get something individual and characterful and/or reasonably priced, and hopefully everybody’s happy.
We have a lovely sunny front room that wasn’t really being used so we’ve turned it into a bedroom, and if someone stays they get this, plus light use of the kitchen, share of the bathroom, and use of our second living room or snug, and the garden when the weather’s nice. It’s taken me ages to put the listing together as there’s rather a lot of information to write up, plus a profile to create and photos to take and upload.
This has been my only photography this week and it only took about five minutes to shoot the photos, and half an hour or so to process them. However, I spent several hours before all of that cleaning and tidying so that it all looked good enough to photograph. It’s not that we’re particularly dirty or messy, just that we’re not immaculate or minimalist and the house gets cleaned on a room rotation basis so it’s seldom all freshly done at once. (It has made me slightly apprehensive about the amount of work involved every time someone stays………)
This is a different kind of photography, of a utilitarian nature, and I didn’t spend much time on it, thinking that as long as the rooms look appealing and the photos are sharp enough, its other photographic merits aren’t that important. Photography is one of the strangest of the visual arts, in that it has this other very practical use of recording what’s there so that people who’re not there can see it.
It’s this muddling of art with documentation that I believe leads to people getting very upset when they find out a photograph has been manipulated in some way – there’s an expectation that photographs tell the truth. They don’t, of course, even when used like this – you’d know it was the same rooms if you came in and saw them, but they look subtly different when photographed and I feel oddly as if I’m looking at someone else’s home when I view them. It was Garry Winogrand who said he photographed things to see what they look like photographed, and that alone is enough to make photography interesting because things do look different photographed.
But getting back to practical matters, if you know anyone who’d like a welcoming, comfortable place to stay in Newark on Trent, for a very reasonable £35 a night (£45 for two), you know where to send them!
You can see the full listing here.