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Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Sometimes a project takes time. These photographs were taken over the past 10 years. They are from an ongoing series of street portraits titled ‘Not Here Long‘. I was asked to submit two series of my work to Ffotogallery’s European Prospects website. After recently working with Sarah Amy Fishlock on the Gooseflesh zine and exhibition at Street Level last month. I was able to see my work in a different light. Sarah curated work that I had taken in different places, for separate projects, over the years and put them together. Thinking about why I take these portraits helped me to see the common thread between them.

The title comes from one of Ken Grant’s photo book reviews and the accompanying text was influenced by a talk by Peter Mitchel. And things start to fall into place.

Here is my description of the work..

‘Not Here Long’ is a series of portraits, taken over a decade. They were conceived through the frustration of not having access to a studio. Streets, buildings, shop fronts, walls and doors are used as backdrops. Each sitter is directed, allowing me to work with natural light. “I think of the set up as I would a studio. I create a space for someone to be themselves. I spend a few minutes with each person taking three frames.” 

“There is an appreciation that I am capturing that person, as they are now; with the light that has travelled from the sun, reflected from each person, as they stand in front of me, their feet firmly planted on the face of the earth, through my camera, through me onto the permanency film.” 

The work is a celebration of the human being. It is unlike a photo booth image; as it takes another human being to see and bring out the qualities that make us human. “I look at people and want to record this moment in time; how gentle, intense, awkward, fragile, tender, lonely, beautiful or alive they seem to be – because we are not here long. 

 You can see the complete series on the European Prospects website here.

 

 

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So with my book dummy printed, bound, shown, seen, discussed and dissected; with Photo Book Bristol lived, breathed and enjoyed to the full – I am trying to take a break from my book project. I need time to digest the feedback I’ve been given.

I am distracting myself with a new project, making portraits of women breast feeding their children. I first started this series a few months ago, but as with all my work it takes a while before I can uncover why I am taking these pictures and what the work is about.

Here are the reasons I have come up with so far:

1 I want to make the photographs that other people don’t make. Now that everyone is a photographer this clarifies my role and helps me to focus on the gaps that I see. I only see images of women breast feeding when it’s in conjunction with a breast feeding cause. Vernacular photographs of breast feeding woman are also rare.- But that’s not a reason, just a nudge in the right direction.

2 I am aware of a disconnect in our culture, as the NHS promotes breast feeding when we still have page 3. – This could be a reason to explore the subject…

3 I often felt uncomfortable breast feeding my daughter in public. I did it, but I wasn’t as laid back about it as I thought I would be, and as I wanted to be. I was disappointed with myself for it. – I think now I am getting somewhere.

Here are Holly McNish’s words on the subject in her spoken word performance ‘Embarrassed’. It’s brillaint -watch it!

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