Photography blogs are boring and make me want to go on a terrible spree. Welcome to the antidote.
I’ve done a big old barrage of balls since I last blogged, and I’m bloated with a load of shitty, high fat, high sugar word content. And I have a rumbling feeling in my lower word-testine.
Prepare for a big, spewy mess; one that looks like I’ve eaten six litres of spaghetti letters (the kind that comes in tomato sauce), bloiked it up and then desperately rummaged around in the resulting carbo-mess with my fingers, hastily arranging something remotely legible whilst sobbing uncontrollably.
The most significant thing that has happened is that I’ve moved house. A whole THREE MILES AWAY. Without boring the actual faces off the fronts of your heads, this means I have space for studio work, a garden to wander around in, fully nude, and a nearby bit of actual countryside to shoot in, which I have already taken advantage of to create a couple of images.
I’ve had a curious problem as of late: in between my commissioned work and my themed projects, I’ve been trying to work out what sort of images I want to create, what it is I enjoy creating and why. That might sound a bit like navel gazing (ooh, fluff!) but I think it’s essential for finding a focus to my work. I’m at that point now where I want to lock down a “style”, or a common theme to my shots and I am strongly of the belief that this is the key to making better images.
It’s something that comes with time; you piece it together and find what feels pleasing to you. Well I had something of a flowery, artist moment when I realised that, retrospectively and somewhat subconsciously, one of my main influences is Ukranian photographer Yelena Yemchuck. When I was a teenager, I discovered The Smashing Pumpkins; admittedly not as a result of being of an inquisitive musical disposition, but because a girl I liked made me a mixtape of them.
Their fourth album, Adore, remains one of my favourites of all time. The album sleeve contains a number of shots by Yelena Yemchuck. I looked her up recently, and found a wealth of other work by her. That’s when it hit me like a big brick of bloody revelatory light, full on in my massive, gawping face; her work had arguably buried a little seed of an appreciation of photography that had been incubating itself inside me (no, I know seeds don’t incubate, just go with me on this one) which had suddenly burst out of me like that Alien lad that pops out of John Hurt. The Alien, I think he’s called.
Also, just like the Alien in the film (the film ‘Alien’), at the time, I didn’t get a good look at the slightly rubbish looking latex thing as it got dragged off on a piece of string. When I realised who it was that turned me on to photography, it was like the bit later on where Ripley finds the alien, and it’s, like, PROPERLY massive, except the alien had Yelena Yemchuck’s head and instead of Ripley it was me and instead of being filled with profound terror I was very pleased.
I think that analogy works fine.
Fine. Here are some shots from a portrait session that are indicative of the kind of thing I want to make. As I said, I took advantage of the nearby rural-y bits that now surround me, the work of Yemchuck firmly embedded in my noggin. Please click on these shots to have them fill your screen and subsequently your entire mind.
The idea behind these images was to play with processing a lot more than I usually would, but instead of buying some garish preset or being heavy-handed for the sake of it, the goal was to carefully eke out something that had a romantic, gothic, slightly low-fi, found photograph feel, without overdoing it or without the results of my photoshopping feeling too obvious.
I love the idea of playing with images to create something that blends photography with other artistic processes, but I am also acutely aware of my own limitations beyond simply taking and processing photographs. This sort of thing has to be done very carefully over a few editing sessions; any artistic process requires patience and careful attention, especially so when it involves treading fairly new ground.
My main fear with these images and this shoot is that they would be (or are) cheesy, rote and unoriginal. I have had a significant change of attitude as of late, though, and have realised that the practice of attempting to come up with an absolute, original idea is a massive waste of my time; it’s like chasing a ghost. What I should concentrate on is creating things that please me first and foremost, things that appeal to and resonate with me.
It was then I was reminded of what my consistently brilliant and supporting wife had said about the prodigious, younger artist’s courage and lack of inhibition when it comes to creating. I should just make things; fear of making mistakes or fear of criticism means we fail to progress. Sure, your technical ability will improve, but your own style will never develop until you make the decision to start painting in bolder, broader strokes, without fear of reprimand.
FAIR ENOUGH. Back to irreverance, then, and pretending death isn’t a thing. And what better way to do that than by blinding you with a procession of nice looky-at things? Get those godless loins of yours ready to accept and enjoy a selection of the latest combinations of coloured light I allowed my camera to look at for a split second.