This is the photo I'll be using for the album cover. It's by the brilliant Shropshire based-photographer, Verity Gray (check out her Flickr-stream HERE).
I love Verity's work, all her photos seem to have a tremendous kind of soulful consciousness. They are often from an unusual angle (sometimes literally) providing unexpected insights. With this post in mind, I emailed Verity to ask her to say something about the photo and she simply said "Grand Central Station, New York at it's finest!".
I can look at this photo for long periods and I still see new things in it. The scene depicted here, is to me on the one hand very alienating; a bustling, all-artificial environment, people are rushing so that they are just a blur, the crowds are such that individuality is hard to engage with, no particular faces or expressions stand out. People into the far distance are swarming like ants. Shadows are as true a form as people themselves.
However, part of this photo's duality, it's innate contradiction, is that as well as being an alienating environment it remains at the same time a compassionate one. This is also why I feel it fits in really well with the musical and lyrical themes of my album... There is not just loneliness in the crowd but friendliness, perhaps even love. The light from the middle window at the back, leading to that of the famous station clock, via the intense light from our 'other' photographer's equipment within the photo itself, then reflecting off the flooring material, clearly draws our attention to the two characters hugging each other. Perhaps the photographer in the photo was a passing stranger who was kind enough to capture this affecting moment, joining and sharing this brief period of warmth. From the crowds come points of empathy and kindness. As you look around, perhaps another couple are about to be photographed hugging too. Everywhere there may be groups of old friends and new ones, sharing adventures. This is a great, or literally "Grand" railway station, thus a portal to great new adventures or the culmination of adventures coming to their thrilling conclusion, people dizzy with fresh memories or expectations. The built environment also can be seen as stark, dark, shadowy, devoid of all non-human nature, hard but simultaneously as having an old-world charm and warmth.
I particularly like the aspect of this in which we can see this as a photograph of a photograph being taken... or 'our' photographer who gives us our eyes into this world is also now also possibly within this scene, as a blurry background image for the photographer or couple in the center of the scene. This has the effect of re-aligning us from our outside, viewing, detached, alienated observance of the scene and bringing us into it. We may be touched or thoughtful about the multitude of human interactions within the scene and at the same time are somehow within it ourselves, no longer the detached people-watcher, now we me be the watched as well.
We are innately connected to, and within the scene ourselves. We are as surrounded by camaraderie and warmth, or as alienated and lonely as the people within it.