In which I finally work out what the hell I’m doing.
I’ve taken over 400 images that I could use for assignment 1. Not all of them were with that in mind, but I was taking more photographs because I was trying to force myself to make images in my local environment, be that my house, the town I live in, or the places I frequently visit in my day-to-day life. A few days ago I decided I’d have to pull something together from what I had and just make the best of it. So, that’s when I decided to spend some time looking at the list of suggested links given in the course materials. I didn’t want to look at them before as I had really wanted to make sure my ideas for this assignment were mine as much as I could make them mine. I know that no ideas are completely original, that there ‘is nothing new under the sun’, but I wanted to go through my own process before I spent time examining anyone else’s.
One of the first photographers I looked at was Gawain Barnard. It was ‘Journey’s By Train’ (1) that stood out to me because although I’m finding it hard to explain, looking at that set of images clarified my own.
I’d realised that I’d been finding it very difficult to take images locally and was really struggling. However, I’d been taking a lot of images through windows of my house and car, of reflections, and of various portals and thresholds. Because of the poor technical quality I’d dismissed the idea of using them, but when I saw Gawain Barnard’s work I realised that my images had been expressing my feelings about being in Blandford. To me, his images tied in with my ideas of not really belonging here. It’s not as simple as just travelling through, it’s something else. I needed to take some more images in a local meadow, and so I went exploring next to the River Stour where there is an old railway bridge that is unconnected and stands alone. For the first time I felt like I knew what I was doing, what I was aiming for.
Now I’ve decided on my final images I’ve only used two of those that I had originally felt would be really important. I found some graffiti under the old railway bridge that had an impact on me and is a mixture of evidence to myself and others that my feelings of discomfort are not misplaced.
I’m not making too much out of something that could be kids that don’t understand the meanings behind these symbols messing around. This comes on top of various other experiences that my children and I have had in Dorset. I wish I’d been surprised, but I wasn’t.
Once I’d decided that it would be okay to use the images that felt authentic to me and not to worry too much about technical quality, things came together. I picked out about fifteen images to print up just to see them more clearly as a set. I used seven images, and I was really pleased when I laid them out as (to me, at least), they made a narrative in time as well as representing a set of ideas I was finding it hard to verbalise.
I can see that I could add more images, and the technical quality could definitely be improved. I’d like to be able to revisit the composition on two of them and one that was taken on my iPhone has a very annoying cloud I’d like to remove digitally. But looking at the contact sheets for what I’ve done, it’s possible that I could produce two or three sets of images that express various ideas as I was working on several approaches at once. I also have several pages of sketches of staged and planned images that I could work on eventually. However, I don’t envisage a time where I’d feel as comfortable with taking images here as I do in London because I feel a lot less authentically myself here, and there is a feeling of constraint and discomfort for me.