This exercise was to test my ability of shooting pictures quickly. I had combines this with ‘A journey’ which I shall both re-do and write about another time.
Underlying these images is a fundamental technical flaw, that of underdevelopment. That any image came out is fortuitous – so I may redo this exercise again. Notwithstanding that shortcoming my intent was to try and ‘see’ an image and capture it as close to the moment as possible. I am aware of the notion of the pre-visualised or compositional nature of photography, how a good deal of images today are ‘set-up’, the only construction here is the one in my mind. Looking for interesting compositional images that ‘speak’ of something.
I took a lot more than is shown here and part of the edit was enabled by the poor technical quality and so limited the choice somewhat. The under development has emphasised the grainy structure which for some photographers is sought after. I do admire quite a few photographers who use that device in their work, Michael Ackerman, Duane Michals and others – however, and to emphasise, this wasn’t my intent. All of the images bar one are full frame i.e. non-cropped – the image that is cropped, and heavily so is the one that has deliberate movement across the frame – three up from the bottom. My process was to ‘see’ the image and move the camera to the eye and take the picture. I had decided on very fast film Fuji Neopan 1600 as I knew the light was going to be variable at this time of year and a lot of images would be taken inside where the light would be reduced. I wanted to get as close to people as possible and test my nerve with capturing people in the environment.
If these images work well it has as much to with the intimacy of them, the closeness to the people – I think the images have a certain dynamism, apart from the ‘Open’ picture, which is probably out of kilter with the rest of the images, but I like it.
The exercise asks if I think the images are honest and whether I edited the truth in any way. Well, first of all I’m not sure what the question means. I have been honest to say that the negatives were underdeveloped, the majority of the images are full frame, they are in black and white – which is of course at artifice in itself (but one that is generally and acceptable one (in my view)). So, yes, I think they are honest – I haven’t ‘moved’ the truth in these shots. The difficulties in this photography are twofold, firstly the photographer needs to hone the ‘viewing skill’, I think that this is a learnable skill and one which is likely to be improved by practise. The other difficulty is about how close the photographer can get to his subject – I used a 90mm fixed focus manual lens, the camera did have an integral light meter and motor wind, but other than that was completely manual, so dexterity and experience with the ‘tool’ is important – changing cameras on a regular basis would militate against that familiarity and therefore make things more problematic.