It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted anything. Apologies for that. But I do have exciting news…
I am very proud to have recently been made a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society. The LRPS is the first rung of the organisation’s distinctions. To achieve it the photographer must be able to demonstrate a good technical standard, visual awareness, and an ability to communicate. They must also be able to present their submitted portfolio in a way that gives consideration to its overall appearance.
I thought I would share with you the photographs I submitted to support my application. They are an eclectic bunch ranging from some informal portraits, street photography and a picture of a tea bag! The process of choosing them gave me a chance to think through some of the pictures I have taken over the years. As you should know by now I spend time (rather too much time?) thinking about why I photograph so here are a few of my thoughts on why I took these particular pictures.
I had been in Barcelona for a few days working. On the last day I had a few hours to spare before my flight so I strolled around the city centre one last time. It was a very hot day in midsummer. I noticed these two young men about to disappear from the bright sunshine into the shadows of an alleyway. I was struck by their appearance casually dressed but with very sharp haircuts walking purposely. I also loved the strong colours and the play of shadows and sunlight which I think captured the vibrancy of the city.
And I guess I like strong shadows and bright light as the next photograph demonstrates. I loved the patterns made by the shadows of the blinds and how their strong geometrical shapes contrasted with the gentle lines of the the daffodils.
The next two photographs are from a series of informal portraits of middle aged to older men engaging in their hobbies. As a person who falls into that age and gender category I wanted to explore how people after a lifetime of work begin to seque into retirement and later life. In these examples by continuing to exercise and keep fit in the gym, and by growing their fruit and vegetables on their allotment. In both cases, continuing to keep active and taking control of their lives whether by ensuring they stay healthy or by providing their own food.
This photograph was taken on the steps down from St Pauls Cathedral to the Millenium Bridge in London. I had noticed the strong lines of the steps and wanted to capture something that contrasted with them so I waited. I was lucky when these two woman wearing almost identical floral leggings happened to come by. The woman in the foreground is in midstep (her forward foot suspended in the air) which gives the photograph a strong sense of motion. I feel that there are two types of contrast in this image – the strong lines of the steps and the softer floral patterns of the leggings; and then the steps’ sense of permanence and stillness contrasting with the motion of the moving legs.
The first black and white picture is of the allegedly oldest tree in London, a yew tree in the churchyard at Totteridge on the very edges of the city. It is believed to be at least 2000 years old. The photograph was taken towards the end of the Spring lockdown in the UK and I was tentatively cycling a little further (cycling outdoors was always permitted in the UK as long as you did not overstretch yourself). I spent some time looking and feeling the tree before I took this photograph. I wanted to get a sense of the texture of the tree but also of its age. It seemed to me that this was a face that through the march of time had seen so much and would see so much more. It gave me a sense of hope for the future. In post production I lightened the bokeh behind the hole on the right to add a reassuring twinkle to its eye.
Sometimes the best photographs can be made in the most familiar territory especially if you look at in a different way. This street light and building are just up the road from where I live.
And sometimes it can be the details that tell a story. Here’s one of food waste and recycling; that’s a teabag about to be dropped into a recycling caddy. I wanted to include a close-up in my portfolio but didnt want to choose a more obvious subject.
Another close to home photograph. This was taken one night on the Holloway Road in north London. It’s the beginning of the A1, a major road north to Scotland. As you may recall I have always had a fascination with roads and where they might lead.
And the final picture is the gravestones stacked around the Hardy Tree in Old St Pancras churchyard near Kings Cross Station. Before he made his name as poet and the author of the Wessex Tales, Thomas Hardy was an architect living and working in London. At the time the railway was being built out of Kings Cross straight through the churchyard. Hardy’s task was to oversee the reburial in one larger grave of the departed dug up to make way for the new railway. He had the gravestones of the rehoused dead encircle an ash tree in the church yard. Many years later, Hardy wrote a poem called the Levelled Churchyard which is partly about his experience in London. I have been drawn back to this strange entwined tree many times but this is my favourite photograph I have taken of it so far.
The subjects in the pictures I ultimately chose include quirky and different viewpoints, trying to see things in a different way and seeking out order in the bustling and ever changing streets. I also, as you could imagine, I chose pictures that were very personal to me, particularly the Hardy Tree.
Becoming an LRPS is a part of my ongoing journey as a photographer. I hope to continue to learn and to share my experiences. Hope that some of you enjoy the journey too.
Thanks for reading.