Do you ever look back through a series of photos, perhaps from some long-ago holiday in a wonderful landscape, and think to yourself “Did it really happen? Was I really there?”. Well now, through the marvel of the compact digital camera, you can put away such uncertainties with the Bootselfie, a definitive image that says “Yes! I was there! And to prove it, those are my boots!”.
As an fine example, here is a 2008 photo from Esk Hause, in the Lake District. The exact location is that first level bit of soft grass that you come to having hauled up the final bit of steep slope. The place where everyone except the superfit pauses to admire the view and reoxygenate the body. Having my boot in the foreground (pity about the pallid shin…) reminds me more precisely of that day on the hills than the view alone could ever do.
At the same place, a year previously, I bagged a group-bootselfie (above), something of a rarity because it requires persuading an otherwise sane and sensible person to co-operate with an essentially silly process. Better framed, this image would have cut out Cate and restricted her to her boots, but the splash of orange hair adds something, n’est-ce pas?
The best bootselfies should have a touch of the dramatic about them. The example above, taken on a mountain called Vogel in Slovenia, isolates the boot nicely against the distant view, giving a good sense of open space in the immediate foreground. In fact, that is just about right, as the ground fell away sharply from where I was sitting. Fortunately, I did not.
And some bootselfies just cry out to be taken. Standing on a boulder in the Cuillins of Skye, projecting over the Bhasteir Gorge, who could resist a straight-down, vertiginous bootselfie? Note that this is more recent than the previous examples, and the tatty Hi-Tech boots have been replaced by Trezetas: designer labels, c’est moi.
Finally, some bootselfies record a familiar scene on a memorable day. This is the view from some rocks at the top of the hill near my home in Yorkshire. I have sat and stared at this view a great many times, but seldom on such an intensely clear, blue spring day. That alone merited a bootselfie.
So there it is, a photographic art-form or a visual aid to the psychogeography that seems to be very fashionable amongst the metropolitan literati (I mean you, Will Self)? Whatever the rationale and spurious justification, bootselfies enhance the memory of a time and place. And when you have a face like mine (“A great face for radio”, I was once told), a photo of one’s boot is so much more appealing than a selfie of one’s face.