Sometimes working on the holiday photos takes a backseat to all the photos that get worked on for clients. Something that I’m reminded about – usually when I’m taking photos at a family day out or family birthday party. Guilty as charged, m’lud.
Being something of an artist, I feel it’s important to offer a complete service. So where most people are happy to take a photo and just throw them out to the world, to me it’s just the start of the process. For a client, I’m working against a clock, with a typical turnaround being two weeks or less to see images. This involves selection, and basic enhancement. Depending on the client, there might be some retouching involved too. For creative portrait work, I usually pick out a few for special treatment before viewing by the client. Bottom line, there’s work that goes into the photos that takes time. Which is why it’s only when I get spare time that I sort out those holiday photos. Or rather, I should say that I actually have made time for my own photos.
It’s a nostalgic place, the past. As a photographer, I live in the moment. Light is, after all, transient. As an artist, working with photography as a medium, I am primarily working in the past. The photo, once taken, is part of history, so editing and transforming it is very much working in changing the perception of the past. The future does come into it. As a business, looking to the future is vital for innovation and planning. And of course, thinking about future ideas, learning, is all part of growing.
As it happens, it turns out the past is indeed a place of nostalgia. When Ros, the children and I went to Great Yarmouth last year, we visited the tourist attraction “Yesterday’s World. Ironically, the Great Yarmouth museum has now become part of the past itself, having closed down (the Sussex museum is still open however). It was fun to see though, and where else but a place like this would I get to photograph Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria and all 6 wives of Henry VIII? (Ok, Madame Tussauds springs to mind, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have a push bike. Or perhaps they do?)
Meanwhile in Great Yarmouth, there was a wedding going on. And on. And on. A frozen tableau, you could say. Imagine the happiest day of your life lasting forever. We’re talking about very very small people here. Miniature in fact. And they’re not real people. Welcome to Merrivale Model Village. All the fun of the fayre next to snow lifts. Not to mention giant fish. Well, they’d be giant to the inhabitants of the village, if they were real. Here’s a random thought – does anyone know of any model villages that have bar mitzvahs?
Each of these two places offered their own unique challenges. For one thing, you’re there strictly as an observer. Trying to avoid getting other visitors in the shots. Lighting was another issue. Think like they’re real people, when lighting them, I reckon. In fact some of the waxworks look pretty realistic! And as for getting down to a decent height to photograph tiny “people”…
But here’s a a thought – to what extent can the work be considered my own? I didn’t pose the figures, didn’t set anything up. But then, is that relevant? A landscape photographer doesn’t set up the landscape. A street photographer doesn’t create the scenario, the urban background. A documentary photographer seeks only to document what is there. Or do they? They are responsible for composition, for choosing or shaping the light. So I would argue that on that basis, this is my own work.
In photographing these, are these mere facsimiles or have I created portraits? Consider the waxworks. They may not reflect real emotion. Or at least not emotion felt at the time. I’d say that the images I took are an extension of a portrait started by the person who created the original waxwork. But then if I take a documentary portrait of a real person, with no influence over the emotions of that person, wherein lies the difference? And returning to the miniatures, do the images created by cavemen, crude as they were, constitute portraiture?
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