• Morgan Fagg

Pictures, Presidents and Pandemics

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Do you need to getaway from it all?

If like me, you like to see more than just political posts and presidential tweets then check out Rachel Nugent’s instagram account where the dance teacher shares daily pictures of nothing but nature.

I’ve seen more of the Irish countryside following Rachel Nugent's account over the last six months than I have in years and I think her account is really worth following.

There are two friends that I am following online that always make me smile with their daily dose of photographs and neither of them are professional photographers.

The first is a New Yorker living in Madrid who posts frequently about the beautiful architecture in my neighbourhood. She captures the old wooden doors, restaurant menus, beautiful balconies and fun graffiti she sees on her daily walks which she manages to capture on her Iphone11 which I hope her grandchildren and friends enjoy as much as I do.

She posts so consistently that friends ask if everything is okay when she misses doesn't post everyday.

In addition to her photography, I follow her political posts about the president of the United States and the state of politics in the United Sates at the moment.

I expect to see many posts to focus on the outcome of the US election, Coronavirus, and Brexit by the time the year ends and it is so refreshing to see such welcoming pictures as those posted by Racheal Nugent and Anne Harvey Mustienes. One details the urban world around me in Madrid and the other focuses on the Midland’s natural world which I have taken for granted in the past.

Racheal posts pictures of leaves and insects and trees and is just exploring the countryside with her Samsung S8 cameraphone which she is able to share with all of us through her Instagram account, @rach.nugent1

As I said, Racheal is an amateur photographer but throughout the strict lockdown in Spain, I have enjoyed seeing the Westmeath countryside through Racheal’s eyes and her lens and really think she deserves a mention as people are missing out, if I don't.

Photography hasn’t always been so accessible or easy to share and I am reminded of the story of a well-known local photographer, who was capturing two presidents at Dublin Airport in 1995. A decade ago, Joe Relihan regaled Midland Photography Club with his story and I think it is worth repeating.

President Mary Robinson was meeting the US President Bill Clinton at Dublin Airport and Joe Relihan was tasked with taking their picture when Air Force One touched down in Dublin.

Once the pictures were taken, the role of film had to be rushed across Dublin to be developed and shared with various news networks. I’m not sure if the film was couriered by motorbike or by army helicopter but photography wasn’t shared as easily 25 years ago as it is today.

Today we live in a world where the US President shares his late night thoughts via Twitter and the world reacts to his attacks and crazy commentary but every one of us has the technology to share photos, videos and text in seconds.

It ireally s a very different world from Joe Relihan’s role of film being rushed across Dublin.

I once sold a photograph of Air Force One at Dublin airport for €75 and my photograph was taken behind the thick green security fence of Dublin Airport. I didn’t have my camera out of the bag as Air Force One flew over my head at the threshold of the runway when Obama touched down in 2011 and I knew that photographs from a distance just wouldn’t be the same.

There was no way to get around the green JF Hanley security fence in front of my lens so I deliberately took some pictures of their fence and sign with Air Force One in the distance and sold the picture to JF Hanley fences.

You see, different people appreciate different pictures and Rachel has focused on the everyday greenery in the Midlands. Butterflies and leaves, grass and trees, country lanes and hilltops.

Digital photography is incredibly accessible and enjoyable so share some insights into your world. Appreciate that tree or slug or worm and let’s forget the politics for a while.

Anne’s son Carlos had asked me to help out and take some photographs for the Pete Buttigieg campaign in Spain and one image from Madrid was apparently picked up by his campaign and liked 15,000 times but when I look at the talented Amateur photographer on Instagram, I am only seeing 15 likes and I think Athlone is missing out.

Forget all the images from oversees, we need to look at the bigger picture here and enjoy our gardens and hedges and trees.

Take the time to realise that the world might not be interested in your cat or dog but to someone else it might mean the world and it is worth sharing some of your photos.

I remember being asked to be Michael D Higgins’ campaign photographer in 2011 but knew I was only being asked because I was the only one who had a camera with me and was taking pictures at a small poetry fundraising event, and knew that there were a thousand better photographers out there.

Ten years later and I am sure An Uactaráin has been photographed a million times by every man and his dog but I remember him telling me that he regretted not having more photographs from his time as a minister. How many memories does he have where there were no cameras or photographers present? How many photographs and negatives have been forgotten in attics and boxes?

These are extraordinary times, why not be extraordinary?

Focus on the leaves and the trees and the grass, show the world a different world, a natural world.

Maybe my appreciation for the Midlands has only grown since the Lockdown in Madrid but nurture your budding photographers in your home and look through your own archive of old pictures, they may not be rushed by courier to the press and shared around the world but to someone, they might just mean the world.

Don’t let the volume of images reduce the quality of you pictures.

RIGHT: Rachel pictured on @rach.nugent1

DESTRESS: Take a moment to look at her Instagram feed if you don't have time to smell the flowers.

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