Carrying out the philosophy of this blog (that is trying any which way of making art) I freely admit that photography is the one studio-practice, discipline, endeavour or ‘thing’ I’ve been most dreading.
My fear is caused by the little box called a camera. It’s technology, which to outsiders might seem extreme (‘can she really be that inept?’) but please remember that for me, a door is a complex piece of machinery operated by invisible wizards. As for cameras… In order for my camera to obey me, I might sacrifice a goat to appease its spirit, or something. That camera can sense my fear. I approach it respectfully.
First, I need some subjects, but people ruin pictures by being difficult or ugly, and I include myself in that: in real life, I am a foxy babe, but whenever someone takes my photo, an obese angry nonagerian babushka jaunts in from a bygone age to stand in front of me while scowling at the lens. I have long admired those photographers who can, in one instant, capture not just a person as others see them, but something more, something deeper – a sense of what’s in their soul. I dream of doing that.
But on my bog-standard camera, people will seem like dots and landscapes will never seem sweeping and majestic, but distant, hazy and vague. Animals? Oh perr-lease. Staged tableaux? At some point maybe. Random stuff it is then.
I wander round the city, snapping whatever takes my fancy, following my friend’s wise advice to have fun, and oh – it’s like a Visconti film: camera in hand, artistic face, distracted air. I try buildings (small ones – skyscrapers are notoriously hard). My already immense respect for proper photographers increases with every picture taken.
I seek advice: my friend Ian Tilton who says: “The 'old school' advice in amateur photo magazines was to shoot with the sun always behind you. Well this just ain't right,’
Grammar Ian, grammar…
‘Backlight can often be best. You will have to increase your exposure if the light source is in your picture (or if it's just out of shot even), but your photographs will have beautiful atmosphere and depth. And the captured flare effects from extraneous light bouncing around your lens can be ethereal, psychedelic and heavenly.”
But this is me, wrangling with electrical equipment.
“Go against this "Old School Rule" and capture the spirit of God's lovely light. Let me hear y'say hallelluja, my Sister and Brother photographers ! Play, play, play. Xxx”
And Ian should know. He’s taken some of the best portraits in the past twenty-five years.
I follow both his advice and his spirited encouragement, and visit a beach. It’s slightly overcast albeit with bursts of the sun. There is a beautiful and tempestuous sea, and I take some wild-card snaps of still-life (ie rotting seaweed) but it just doesn’t work. I take pictures of my friend who is painting – which turn out, alright, I suppose. Then we get bored with sitting still, and go for a paddle. The result is infused with backlight. I like the sense of movement, and the composition.
Ian, your career is safe.