My photography in 2017 has taken a back seat, a new job and readjusting after coming back from New York has resulted in my output being significantly less than 2016.
The year started slowly. In February I discovered Wimbledon Dogs was closing its doors for the last time in March. This gave me four Saturday night meets to put together a project. The viewing gallery, which had seen much better days, was on the opening straight. The floodlit track gave me the perfect mixture of light and dark and I found shooting there really easy, I wished I had gone there sooner, over a much longer timespan. I could have really told and interesting story but with only four weeks until it closed it was difficult to build a story and get to know anyone. I was very happy with a couple of shots but on the whole it was a missed opportunity.
The summer months seemed to come and go quickly, this was because I had just started my job at The Business of Fashion and all of my energy was going into that. I did go and shoot occasionally but found it difficult to find the right spots and also the weather being so intermittent made it nearly impossible. Probably my best day was Pride, where I managed to get a couple of shots that really felt like a step forward from my pictures in New York. Next year I’m going to more carefully decide on locations, scout for places with the right kind of people and really double down on what worked this year.
All year I had been spying a Sigma f1.4 lens and in the first week of November, when the nights had drawn in to the point where it was dark at 5:30, I bought one.
I started a project on Oxford St which used the lights from the shop windows to illuminate my subjects. So every evening I walked up and down Oxford St for around an hour shooting people shopping, leaving work or going somewhere for a night out. There were various shops up and down the street which had really superb, bright windows and with my new f1.4 I could pretty much start to grab the kinds of images that I’d had in my minds eye for quite a while.
At first I took all manner of compositions, groups, busy images of lots of people at once, multiple layers of shoppers and very close to very wide. As the project moved into its middle stage I started to focus my attention on the single, lone subject.
This is exactly what I did last year in New York and it has started to make me think more about why this is my preferred way to shoot. There has to be something in the connection you get when you pick out one person from the crowd, stand directly in front of them and take their picture. I think I’m looking for a one on one moment, especially as these are all people who catch my eye. I’m selecting the eccentric, stylish, beautiful people. The psychology of this should be simple to decipher, it’s plain as day in front of my eyes but over the years I’ve tried to deny it somewhat, I’m looking for cool people because I want to be that way. The street format suits me perfectly because I don’t have to speak to them afterwards and display my social awkwardness. My introverted nature means that sometimes people think I’m aloof but most of the time I’m just scared and find social interaction hard. By taking pictures of the people I do, I am somehow complimenting them. I understand that they don’t see it that was always, some do, but by collecting these moments in time I feel like I’m connected with them. The obvious question is why don’t I talk to them, or just go and shoot models and fashion and the answer is; I don’t know.
But back to the project. It isn’t finished yet, I hope to continue into January, at the moment I have half a dozen shots I’m really happy with but now I have identified (and come to terms with) what I really am looking for, I want to zero in and make the second half somehow comment on that. I don’t know how I will do that, I feel like I need to face this head on, and I know I’ve said that before, but I’m going to be looking for ways to address it.
The year was rounded off with a fantastic shoot I did with Sinéad Burke who was talking at the VOICES conference about the trouble she faces daily exploring her love of fashion. Standing at 3’ 5” she is not only poorly catered for but actually finds the shopping experience difficult and demeaning. She wanted to talk to the collected audience of fashion industry leaders about how this untapped audience was a opportunity that they were currently missing. We went to TopShop on Oxford St to take some sneaky shots of her walking through the store to illustrate how the displays of clothes were sometimes impossible for her to interact with. She was so lovely and we had a great time taking the pictures. You can see her talk here: https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/video/its-time-for-adaptive-fashion
So after 2016 in New York, this year has been very different. My view of what my life was going to be has had to change dramatically over the past year and while there has had to be some significant sacrifices there has also been some interesting movement forward. 2018 is going to have to work on that and see where I can take my photography, I’m trying not to force it but some answers to why might just show me the door to the next level. Let’s see.