Sunday, 27 June 2010
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Things I have learnt about photography:
Never believe you have enough time. Never wait.
Always set up the camera before the tripod.
The best photograph is
Sunday, 20 June 2010
She said it's hard for me to see/How one little boy got so ugly,/Yes my little girlie that might be/But there ain't nobody that can sing like me/Ain't nobody that can sing like me
- Billy Bragg, 'Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key'
52 weeks on Flickr
Saturday, 19 June 2010
My bracelet has been missing for a fortnight, but I turned my room upside-down and the house inside-out looking for it. I went to the city and asked in every shop I'd visited. I ended up at the cathedral, and when they told me nothing had been handed in I sat in the quiet under the stained glass and thought.
There is very little worth in objects. There are people in this and other worlds who are betrayed by those they trusted most, and who find they have nothing except that which they find inside themselves. Those things, that strength and that honesty and that love, are there in you whether you are wearing a bracelet to remind yourself or not.
My bracelet is gone, but I have found instead a feeling just inside my ribcage which pulsates quietly and defiantly, and realise now that over the years it left a shard of its stardust in my heart.
(Today, I found it in the guest room bed.)
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Saturday, 12 June 2010
That day I stayed for nearly three hours. The ground was damp and spongey as I jumped, over and over again, turning my toes numb, and the bare tree branches clawed at the blank sky like my own fingerbones under taught, ashen skin.
I returned today, angry and sick and humiliated, expecting a landscape which matched my emotions. What I found was a golden seascape, speckled with daisies, and grasses which came came up to my knees. When I walked a little further, a fawn hopped out of the trees and into the barley. She let me photograph her before she bounded away, and a cuckoo bird chirruped as I set up my tripod.
I took photographs and then I lay in the grass and thought about a lot of things. I listened all the way through Cara's album, and then I ran all the way from one end of the field to the other,the grass slashing my legs softly, because I could. The deer returned and I sat down and we watched each other and I didn't want to photograph it, the moment. I took some more photographs and thought about how I wanted to share whatever I had found with someone else, and then decided that I was too young to not be selfish. I thought about Africa. I did handstands and lay in the grass again. Then it felt like time to leave, so I did.
When I got home, Lucy complained that she had texted me and I had missed Doctor Who. Mum complained that I hadn't done any revision today. Dad complained that England weren't winning their football game. I had left at half past five, and it had just turned seven O'clock.
This was not losing track of the time, I thought, this was losing time altogether. I had noticed the sun seemed low as I walked home, but it hadn't occured to me to check my phone. I hadn't thought about how long I had been taking photographs, or listening to Cara, or conversing in my head. For a while I had, unconciously, lived outside of my own life.
And when I left I had simply felt that it was time to leave. There was no moment of horrific realisation, of mygoodness, I need to get home because I have so much to do. Not even a moment in which I realised I was cold, or thirsty, or wanted another dose of paracetamol (all which I decided were true as I stepped through the front door.)
No, when I left it was because something was tapping me, gently, just inside my ribcage. Go home now, it said, It is done.
I think I may have found my favourite place on earth.
I've reached heights of procrastination previously unknown to man this week. One of these has been to finally tidy my room (to such an extent that I found myself hooving the lids of the boxes under my bed.) Everything was spotless, until I realised that I had lost my bracelet. I woke up this morning with the cupboards still turned out, clothes all over the floor, and my matress still half off the bed. It felt like groundhog day.
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
from a photographer’s point of view.
Annabel, don't you ever feel like you are stealing other peoples photos? Even if you do credit, you are taking their work and making it into your own, especially crediting yourself in the typography. I just think that that's not very kind of you, and maybe people don't want cliché quotes all over their own photographs, which might mean something personally to them? Please explain your logic in doing so...
Annabel, this made me think.
A little while ago I came across a photograph of mine on a tumblr’s blog. That itself wasn’t out of the ordinary; tumblr is the fastest and easiest way I’ve found of spreading inspiration across the internet, and happily I often find my photographs appearing on blogs there. The difference on this day was that the photograph I found, while being mine, had been altered.
Typography is a controversial subject for youth photographers. A lot of people I know absolutely hate the idea of their work being modified or changed in any way. When I found my photograph on Annabel’s blog I spent some time deciding whether or not I was comfortable with the idea of typographies, and discovered three issues of potential concern.
The first, and possibly biggest issue for photographers, is the matter of crediting. Typographers who take an image from somebody else and do not state where it has come from are undeniably selfish. Equally all images on Flickr are copyrighted, so at worse they could in fact be breaking the law. The image rights remain with me, and thus it is down to me to determine how they can and cannot be used.
Luckily for me, my photograph had been properly credited (and that evening Annabel also messaged me to check it was alright for her to use my photographs) but even so, to some photographers, typography can feel like “stealing”. They take power away from the original image producer over the context their image is displayed in. No one likes to be stolen from, and no one likes to feel powerless. This is why crediting in typography is so incredibly important.
The importance of crediting means that in my view there should always be more than a small, anonymous ‘photo credit’ link at the bottom of a typography. Photographers should be fully named and have equal credit prominence with the typographer. After all, we did half the work. If my work is used anywhere, this is what I mostly insist on.
The second issue is based around taste. Photographers often complain that typographies are “ugly”, using “cliché quote” and “garish colours”. Granted, I have found images of mine edited as typographies in ways which I wouldn’t have edited them - but isn’t that the same for any piece of artwork? There are plenty of photographs on Flickr which aren’t to my taste, which don’t use tones which I like or which focus on subjects I have no interest in. They may seem “ugly” to me. But to others they must be opposite – certainly the photographer themselves must like their own image.
More likely I think, when photographers claim typographies to be “ugly”, they are in fact not acknowledging the truth – which is the third issue of typography. That is, photographs are personal. Extraordinarily so. And so, to have somebody else not just look and interpret a photograph, but in fact transform it entirely, physically, and present it with a whole new meaning, can be distressing. Photographers also criticize typographies because the quotes used can be “cliché” and therefore “dumb down” the meanings of the original image.
Here, I am torn. Yes, my photographs are personal. No, I do not want my image “dumbed down”. But I do want people to enjoy them and to interpret them and to find meanings in them which I didn’t necessarily know could be found there.
Someone asked me, in relation to another typographer who uses my work, "do you really want a twelve-year-old spewing all over your photographs?” But the truth is that I spewed when I was twelve. I’m still spewing, if I’m honest. What is a photograph like this if not emotional vomit? No, I don’t particularly want quotes from Twilight attached to one of my photographs, but – and here is the crux – if that is how she interpreted it then that is ok.
You cannot tell people how to interpret the things you create. This was something which blew my mind when I realised it in relation to literature when I was fifteen.
Everybody is entitled to see or think whatever they like about your work. They are entitled to read it differently to the way you read it, to have it bring to mind any quote or any memory or any feeling they so wish. Each person on this planet is different, and so each person bring to every experience something different – and that includes the experience of looking at a photograph. As I said to Annabel, art is wonderful because it is as thought each piece has hundreds of different lives.
This is why typographies, even those you consider ugly, even those which do not interpret your work the way you interpret it, are valid.
(All four by Annabel at followthatway.tumblr.com.)
Sunday, 6 June 2010
I have good memories of London. I remember our garden and my flower patch, and the swingset that appeared overnight like magic when I was six. The metal frame took up the whole lawn. We had a raised patio that I liked to draw on with rainbow-coloured chalks, and plants in terracotta pots that no one ever watered. The concrete was cracked and pitted like wrinkles on the earth’s face, and I didn’t like mud.
There were parks in London too. Visits to Greenwich with Dad at weekends. I liked to walk, carefully balanced, along the wooden logs that bordered the flower beds, and watch the deer behind the wire fence. There was a tree in Greenwich Park which was magic. I could open it up if I found a twig the right size to fit inside its trunk’s gnarled whirl. I read books about flower fairies.
We moved to Norfolk when I was eight-and-a-half. Our new garden was eight times the size of our one in London. It was an acre filled with lawns and hedges and a pond and a vegetable patch. It seemed so huge, until I looked over the hedgerow and saw the fields and the woodland next door.
The things I remember most about moving were the silence and the absolute darkness at night, when there were no more streetlights or kids on skateboards in the road. I would lie awake for hours and think about blackness and listen to breathing. There had never been anywhere more magical.
I became convinced that there were fairies at the bottom of our garden. They lived amongst the birch trees and one day I would see them. I convinced my new friends at school, too. I kept reading my books. When I had just turned nine, I found out about the Cottingley Fairies. The photographs were fake, and I never ever tried to take a camera with me to the bottom of my garden.
I grew out of fairies, eventually. I grew into a world which was still filled with stories, but which mocked fairytales. High school and teenagerdom and exams and excitement of a different sort lifted me away from the magic I had found in the world around me. The earth became an annoyance; a space which stood between me and the place I was travelling too. Sometimes it rained and sometimes it was sunny, but mostly it passed by me through a window and I never took off my shoes.
Strangely, I found my way back again through a medium which is said to use reality in order to distance ourselves from it. Susan Sontag said, “The habit of photographic seeing – of looking at reality as an array of potential photographs – creates estrangement from, rather than union with, nature.” (On Photography, Penguin Modern Classics 2008, p97) And yet, to all that I agree with her, it was discovering my photographic seeing which returned me to my earth.
The magic which existed in the world around me when I was a city-girl of eight has remained. It is the earth’s and it has always and will always be here. But it is a different kind of magic to the one I saw when I was younger; it is more real. Back then I saw fairies in my garden because my garden itself seemed enchanted. Today I know the fairies live in my imagination, but the garden has shown itself to be far fuller in life than I had ever realised.
Picking up my camera at sixteen, I experience for myself the “psychological transformation of [my] eyesight” (László Moholy-Nagy, painter and photographer.) It was a sudden seeing – indeed, a sudden experiencing. Photography changes reality, no doubt (and mygosh, is there a blogpost I’ve been writing for too long on that subject.) But the reality that I found was one in which the earth and I could communicate through my lens. It teaches me about the things I come from, and in return I try to pass this on in the only way I know how; in photographs.
It has taught me that it can die and be reborn. It can transform itself unrecognisably from week to week. It can give me the most perfect light (if I listen to and work with it) and the most beautiful metaphors. It forces me to hear it, and to create my work within it as it moves (the bluebells are gone now. I was given three weeks.) My eyesight has been transformed, so that I notice now changes which I never saw before.
And yet, I find myself still blind to some of these changes. Flowers which had been blossoming by the lake had disappeared when I walked there this week; I never noticed them wilting. Perhaps I am simply new to this, perhaps my eye is still untrained and my soles still unsure of the harmony which pulses beneath them. This is the first summer in which I find myself immersed in nature, camera in hand, and I find myself desperate to experience everything I am being offered. Thunderstorms in bare feet. Reading in forest shade. Fog at six am.
These experiences are what make my photographs, and are the backbone for the way I learn about the earth. When I started my fifty-twos, I realised quickly that what I enjoy photographing most was not simply nature itself, but human interaction in the natural world. The project allows me to explore my own relationship with the landscape, as I’ve written about a little before. It has become my “style” and the aesthetic concept my photography is known for.
What I am trying to say is that, this “style” was not something which was carefully planned, but more something which I fell into accidentally, and became besotted with. While I churn out my photographs, I am being taught the workings of the world around me. The stories I tell in my photographs may be fairytales, but the magic the produces them is absolutely genuine.
it’s pouring with rain and my shoulder is wet because I have the window open while I browse flickr. the breezes smell of thunderstorms.
the air is so heavy today, it swirls like soup. the clouds sag and there is static at my fingertips.
there is nothing like standing in the middle of a field in the middle of a storm, with wet mud between your toes and your camera around your neck. who else is doing this right now? who else is watching the lightning in the clouds and feeling their bones shake with the thunder? the earth is vibrating. the rain drops like silver bullets. this is me and the place I come from and the place I depend on and the place I live within connecting, momentarily. this is me remembering that I am tiny.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
I think this project could help me in all sorts of ways, and allow me to branch out and try new things with my photography without being worried about the reaction. I think it could turn out to be a beautiful document of a wonderful summer. I think it could be used as a challenge of stamina and determination and creativity.
My aim is not to produce a stunning photograph every day. It is to pick up my camera once every twenty-four hours for the next one hundred days, and to document my eighteenth summer. That is all. The nervous energy comes from wondering what, exactly, that will produce.
I went to bed late last night, after messaging Rona to wish her good luck, and fell asleep thinking about what sort of photograph I could take on a day which was forecast to be drizzly and overcast. I dreamt of photograph, and woke to someone's voice still ringing in my ears. It was still dark and my clock showed 0528, but instead of burrowing back under the covers, something made me roll over and look out of the window. When I saw the fog, thick and heavy like a grey duvet rolled out over the fields, it was like fate.
I've been waiting for a foggy day for so long, and fifteen minutes later as I left the house I had a hundred concepts in my head for my first summer photograph. I settled on a twisted foggy road and a half-eaten apple, on a misty dress and bare feet, on a turned back and the moment of stepping out.
This photograph comes from somewhere special; a week of anticipation and a moment of luck. This is the first of a hundred to come.