Thursday, 30 June 2011

A long gap!

No posts for more than a month – it feels quite difficult to pick up the threads after such a long gap.  A brief explanation might be a good place to start.  A holiday in France takes up some of the time – and that has also provided some opportunity for reflection (which will emerge through later comments and imminent project/assignment write-ups) as well as supplying photographic opportunities, both for this course and for pleasure.  The OCA Student Association Presidential Election has also intervened – and my election to the role has resulted in some immediate work since I returned from holiday.  The day job has needed some attention, with a few business issues around.  So, those are the ‘excuses’!

Actually, though, there has been something else going on, and I wrote these reflections in the notebook that I have kept alongside this blog for the People & Place course.  I have transcribed it more or less exactly as I wrote on the morning of 9th June, staying in a house in Carcassonne, SW France.

“Just before I left for France on 31/05/11, I reached a conclusion that, try as I might, some of the images for Assignment 3, particularly those of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park Visitor Centre, are simply not good enough.  OK, the assignment hasn’t inspired me etc, etc, but the noisy, underexposed and repetitive images for that site just aren’t good enough.

“Alongside (or maybe because of) that, I’ve been having one of those crises that I now understand dog the world of creative arts.  It has been present during the first half of my holiday.  How do I take photographs of this holiday?  The ‘OCA student’ wants to have meaning and purpose in what I do ... the ‘budding artist’ wants to find feeling and emotion ... but the ‘tourist’ wants to record what he sees ... and the ‘partner’ wants to take back what he knows might ultimately please his fellow traveller.  Out of all of that, and the Assignment 3 work, comes the big question(s) – the dog!  What am I doing? Do I have anything to say? Do I ever have any emotional reactions to anything? Am I worthy? ... and so on.

“There was some related discussion on the OCA Flickr forum – emanating from a question about the Landscape course.  Two or three things emerge:-

·         Eileen posts a link to the work of David Moore & comments that he creates ‘a real sense of place’.  That phrase makes me follow the link, and I find images of rooms ... but focused on detail, incomplete images that leave a sense of what is happening outside the frame ... but with (for me) real aesthetic quality in the graphical structures and the use of colour.

·         I am reminded of my earlier research of magazine images of spaces and places, which use the same ‘partial’ presentation device.  But I am also reminded of images that I have made myself, in the past – a venetian blind & its shadows in Honfleur, some steps in Spain, a tree and a door in Niguelas.

·         Then Clive W pops up in the Flickr forum discussion and says – don’t go looking for emotion, and don’t expect ‘Wuthering Heights’ .. but try and let it come to you.

“And now, maybe, I can see a way forward.  We visited Abbaye St. Hilaire yesterday – a 13th-14th century abbey in L’Aude, famed for its cloisters and for the fact that its monks invented sparkling wine (before Champagne)!  Doing the tourist bit, with 18-200mm lens loaded, feeling frustrated because I know I’m not creating images that mean anything to me, I switch to an 85mm prime lens and begin looking for detail, for ‘partial’ or ‘partially complete’ images that are visually attractive, graphically interesting, but also convey ‘place’ ... and now, just maybe, there are some creative juices flowing again!!!”

These are a few of the photographs that I took that day.  I don’t pretend they are anything so very special, but they made me feel better!


  1. Great to see you back Stan! I am very glad you found the link interesting. I like these pictures - especially the 2nd from the top, which has very few elements but says to me quite a lot about the place you were in - there's a real sense of space and light, which adds to the symbolic elements you have included. I am very intrigued to see where this takes you next.

    I do know what you mean about not being sure what type of pictures to take. I tend to just go for broke and shoot everything that interests me in any way and then edit afterwards. That has advantages, but sometimes I think I might benefit from a slower, more reflective approach. I am sure we will both have moved on in some way in a year's time - it will be interesting to look back and see how we have developend I think.

  2. Fascinating piece and the beginning brilliantly captures where my head is at the moment. I hope to get my head back in the right space (whatever that is) ver the coming weeks and who knows perhaps even taken a photo or two.

    Thanks for sharing