Last weekend I was fortunate to be on stage at the Photography Show, the largest event of its kind in the UK. The show was much quieter this year for obvious reasons but I had a capacity audience for my presentation. My anxiety was high this year, probably due to the fact that I've not done any public speaking since the outbreak of the dreaded Covid-19. I'd just like to thank all of the people that took the time to come and see me waffle on. And a special thank you to those that came to speak to me afterwards. Also I appreciate the many messages across social media and via this website. THANK YOU! :)
Yet again I am at another crossroads with my own work. This process of evolution seems to happen every couple of years. I think this is one of the joys of photography; we never stop learning and we must push ourselves to create diverse work. For me, at the beginning of a new project things can seem quite vague. In actual fact, I currently have no idea where the main project I'm working on is going or even how to describe it! I will try to explain. Right now, all I have is a feeling. I can't put it into words as it comes from the soul of me. I can see how things will look aesthetically and I want to evoke a certain mood. The images will be moments in time that have moved me enough to look through the viewfinder, compose and shoot. They will be moments that resonate deeply or they won't make it onto the final selections. This project may develop into something more concise but right now it is nothing more than a following of a gut feeling. And this is something I find really exciting: who knows where it will take me? It is an adventure in the true sense of the word, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When something stops us in our tracks and prompts us to make an image, we have made a connection with that subject. It doesn't matter whether you are an enthusiastic amateur or even someone that doesn't class themselves as a photographer who's pointing their phone camera at a scene. Something in you made you want to record that moment, and whoever you are it is as relevant as the most well regarded work out there. This is precisely why photography is so diverse and subjective. The key to producing a meaningful body of work is collating moments into some kind of order from the chaos, although I'm probably more referring to my own way of working here!
An example of such a moment can be seen in the image above. As I was walking up to the Fog Signal Station here at Flamborough, I noticed the fiery sunset reflected in the window. That was enough to make me reach for the camera. Had I approached the building from a slightly different angle I might not have ever seen this composition. What I like about it the most, besides the geometric elements, is those wonderful complementary colours of the orange/red sunset with the blue of the dusky sky, and the balance this creates.
Will I use this image in the final project? Perhaps not; I don't know the answer to that yet. The learning here is that the images we don't use are almost as important as the ones we do because this enables us to decide how the project will develop over time. So in the early stages of an idea we are finding our footing in a way. Gradually this focus will narrow down and occasionally get to a point where we think, yes, this particular image is exactly what I need.
My imagery these days tends to feature some kind of human presence, often with nature encroaching - or should that be the other way around? Either way, I was drawn to this scene of the dried and decaying cow parsley, lit up up by the setting sun against a dark and dramatic background. In the shadows, what I first thought was litter are actually flowers. There's a romanticism of sorts going on here. The cow parsley ending its cycle for the year, juxtaposed with new life flowering in the shadows. A dusky sky suggesting the end of another day, as fleeting as human life. Bold colours of red, blue, green and geometric brick work patterns give the eye lots to absorb.
In the above two images, well what can I say. That door, that light, those textures. I could add a further more meaningful narrative but, for now, I'll leave that to your own imagination.
As the evening drew to a close I looked out to the North Sea. It was calm, and down in the seal colony a relaxed atmosphere was evident. In this image a serpentine cloud weaves its way out nowhere, the only cloud in an otherwise clear sky in every direction. A sense of peace at the end of a day. When I headed out to Flamborough on this particular evening, I had no expectations photographically. I was however moved enough to make this selection of images, plus a few more. Will they make it to the final selection? It doesn't really matter at this stage; the development process is under way and this is what drives me forward with anticipation.
I hope these little insights into workflow at the beginning of a project resonate with you.
Thanks for reading and talk soon! :)