I was down in Swanage again this weekend with my friend. We are jointly shooting the town as part of a longer-term project contrasting the place between summer and winter. It’s really good to work alongside another photographer, particularly as our styles are quite different. It certainly makes for some good learning as we share ideas between one another. I really enjoy it.
I went down in the afternoon and took the available light shots on film until it got too dark. I have no idea what will come out of that part of the work. When it got dark (and after a brief foray into a local pub!) I turned to digital, the ridiculously high ISO capabilities of the Canon make night shooting possible in a way that is not realistic with film for me. I regularly shoot between ISO 5000 and 12800. The shots are noisy, I did start to convert them into black and white, but then I decided to pop them back into colour. Even though they are a bit rough, I do quite like the effect.
The project is still evolving. I am taking an ethnographic approach in that I get certain types of images, then once I have got enough of a certain type it’s time to move on to get another. At some point either the work will start to repeat itself, or I run out steam on the project. I am not sure what the project is about, but that’ll become clearer over time as the whole thing starts to shape up. However, it’s a slow burner so I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Swanage feels separate to other places that I have been to. It feels physically more cut off from other places, but also the town and its touristic feel seems to be from another earlier British era. This quality gives the town its character, but at the moment I am not sure if I have managed to capture that sense of it being a little microcosm on the images. Hopefully, this will change over time.
My favourite shot is of the lone palm tree at night. I just love it!
The most difficult thing about photography is trying to take a universal medium that just about everyone has access to and stamp your unique ‘voice’ on it. Everyone’s images can look the same, unless you try different techniques and approaches to make your shots stand out as your own. My work looks much like anyone else’s really. The work by photographers like Anders Petersen and Jacob Aue Sobol have their voice strongly stamped on to their images. How I would love to be able to create work that stands out as being uniquely mine.
My recent exhibition, Salisbury: Night Walks, is the closest I have got to finding my voice. The art documentary approach, strong blacks with graphic composition certainly reflects my work. However, whilst I love a lot of the shots in the project, there is still something missing from the work. For me, the missing ingredient is probably about getting a stronger emotional reaction from the viewer. Getting images with more emotive / emotional content seems to be the order of the day here. Making people stop and think sounds like a good next step in this photographic journey that I am on…