Beyond was the Sea
This is the project that was the start of my taking photography seriously. I revisited the Isle of Sheppey in 2016, a place that I had been taken to for walks often as child. I brought a camera with me and ended up taking photographs along the beach after I found the remains of World War II sea defences scattered along it.
As I walked along past the remains of long abandoned fortifications I was struck by how the sea had slowly worn away the foundations and caused the pillboxes to fall into the sea. The concrete remained, though it had been thrown about by the surf and grew lichen, the mud and sand stuck to my boots and was washed away.
In the years since I have returned to different parts of the south east coast as part of an ongoing project to document the sea. At first other locations that had been built on by the military, then moving on to broader human changes to the coastline. This time has coincided with my first experiences in large format, as well as developing colour film. Having time to set up, compose and take a shot of objects that are battered by the sea but otherwise change slowly has been both rewarding and cathartic, being able to alter and modify the results with no intermediary also has felt oddly appropriate to the process. Result and methods in this case extending and reflecting the subject.
Each photograph contains some element of coastline, combined with a human alteration to it, often in a state of decay or abandonment. As I have taken more images they have started to become more focused on fewer objects within the frame and have tried to single out key aspects. The sea has garnered more attention in recent years with the final realisation that as a species we have been treating a key aspect and the animals that live in it with increasing contempt. With my photographs I don’t for a moment think I can change people, alter enough people to protect this scary but always fascinating entity but I hope that at least some small crack of my fixation with it comes across in what I do.
As a personal development of practice, this has been the most consistent project I have worked on and has spanned the largest amount of time. It has driven me to learn new skills and try new things, though it has now reached point where I want to either bring it to a close or radically change its form. This will bring an end to four years adding to it and is a part, alongside applying for a Masters, an movement to be formal with the presentation of my work.
Pieces of Nowhere
Single objects, distinct from their surroundings. Colour, shape, attitude, some small thing that felt like a single, coherent and balanced frame.
This project came out of carrying a camera with me everywhere. I started to look harder at the things that I passed and began to notice objects that stood out as one thing amongst an otherwise cluttered surrounding. Be it bicycles, dropped toys or single windows in otherwise faceless walls I started to pick out individual entities from their surroundings as I found them.
I began to enjoy finding symmetrical compositions in part influenced by the visual style of the Director Wes Anderson who combines what I can only describe as tweeness with singular vision in the shots he frames. While my aim is to no be a pastiche of his work it has helped me to confident enough in this project to continue it and not discount it as ephemeral snap shots.
I find portrait photography for the most part particularly uncomfortable. It requires balancing two things; having to consider what image I want to capture tempered with finding out how to guide my subject into the form I want to capture but also one they are content to be in.
When I started consciously taking photographs of people (as opposed to casual snap-shots) I stood far away, with as long a lens as I could. I behaved like a paparazzo, taking photographs as if I hoped I would be far enough away that people wouldn’t notice.
As I took more I slowly learned to get closer, to engage with my subjects and not to look at the time with them as something to fear, but as an encouragement toward something that could be not only creatively productive but actually enjoyable.
I very much do not think that portraiture my best work but it is something that I keep returning to despite my dissatisfaction with much of it. I am inspired both by people who manage to capture the essence of people in their portraits and those who use them within crafts such as fashion to create a whole look and feel through an image. As such I think it best represents my desire to challenge myself, to work outside of where I am comfortable and most importantly, to provoke myself to attempt new things.