Tuesday, 22 November 2016

No time to focus

Time hasn't been on my side lately. The old enemies of work and weather have kept my cameras out of action. I'm less inclined to just set off snapping away and increasingly only wanting to take photographs for projects. Luckily my Sandgrounding project, which doesn't require great examples of photographic virtuosity is a good enough temptation when I can add a couple of hours on to a trip into town. As usual my attention was drawn to the scruffy and down at heel!

This time out I actually had something specific in mind to investigate. Something that might become serious. If it does then it would give me something to work at on weekends when there are no poultry shows. However, my plan was thwarted for the time being by two unforeseen circumstances.

Last week I'd ordered three more books from Café Royal Books. Cheap, A5 black and white, saddle stitched (printer speak for stapled!) publications. One was of photos by Ken Grant taken in Southport. So I went and took a couple of snaps in Cable Street for myself.

There's something messy in Ken Grant's pictures, which I also see in some of Tom Woods, which appeals to me.Messy but with some kind of underlying structure at times, but the subjects are what is really important. Fussing over making pictures like Cartier-Bresson's with his famous 'geometry' and decisive moments feels kind of tedious. It's my antipathy towards 'clever' photography kicking in again. Or maybe my low boredom threshold?

I have taken a lot of pictures which fit a certain style of urban, documentary, landscape photography in my time. It's quite prevalent around the web and in print. Where things are presented head on, almost flattened as blocks of colour and/or texture. Often shot on overcast days. I used to really like it, but now it's got to look a bit easy and become another trope.

The more I look at pictures of places without people in them the more I think they are a lacking. Pictures of people doing stuff, in environments, is what is most interesting to look at. Portraits of peopel isolated aren't very interesting to me. That's why I found more of the rejected portraits from the Taylor Wessing prize to hold my attention than any of the shortlisted ones. But I'm no great judge of what makes a portrait.

Closer to home I've been making an occasional snap on my way to or from the Post Office. Over the river the pet food factory is expanding. Too far away and too fenced in to really document it, but it will be changing the landscape. I'll look back at pictures made in the past to see how much of a change.

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