Went to judge a photography competition at Beaminster School (Beaminster, Dorset) last night. Myself and Stuart Broom had been invited by photography tutor (and landscape photographer) Tara Wickham to do the judging only, to be honest, we could have done with another couple of hours to come to a decision about the winners.
It was a bit of a mad rush to mark 200-odd photographs for their technical merit, composition, content, imagination and style in about an hour. I was totally fair though and got more and more ruthless as the clock kept ticking. Sunsets showed little imagination but may have scored well on technical merit; pictures with a great shape and style to them also won points but if too dark or too light etc… you get the point. The thing I found hard was, living in the post-Lomo/digital vomit/facebook age means that quite a few of what would traditionally be regarded as technically poor prints I found I really liked. I decided to err on the side of the accepted meaning of ‘high technical standard’ though and steer clear of interpretative ‘Art’. The standard was pretty good and it’s interesting to note that all the finalists were girls.
I enjoyed doing it and just thanked the Lord that I wasn’t up there being ‘marked’ when I first started to take photographs.
Something I’ve been mulling-over for a while now is the idea of scale in a photograph.
Here are a couple of snaps of my eldest climbing a hill near us. The back of someone’s head doesn’t really make for a winning photograph I know but I had my youngest son under the other arm; and I’m lazy. What interests me is that it’s essentially the same photograph but one ‘works’ – gives you a sense of the steepness of the climb and the effort involved – and one doesn’t. It all appears to be to do with the scale of the subject in relation to the surroundings.
Here are some photographs I did recently of woodman Mace Brightwater in west Dorset, where I live. Another example of someone who knows their craft. It was fascinating to watch and these photographs are from the half hour I was with him: the plan is to go back and do more.
A friend Rob Lee, multi-instrumentalist, producer and all-round good egg has recorded the folk trio I play for and has put a mini site together. There you can enjoy some of the music we play and also look longingly at our faces represented by pixels on your very own monitor.
The Yellow Room are available for hire – for a very reasonable fee.
Have started a project documenting Portland in Dorset.
I have a guide and he is as interesting as the island and so I think the photographs will end up being as much about him as about the island. I will go into more detail as soon as I’m about half way through my shot list; I’ll know if I have something by then.
Here’s one off a roll of film today and it looks suspiciously like a landscape which isn’t like me at all. One of my titles from my shot list just says, “the wind from the south west’.
The point of any artist’s work is to describe the world as the artist sees it. To be ‘checking-out’ what others have done in order to know where to make adjustments to one’s own output places you in a race situation; in a competition situation. Viewers won’t respond to a piece of work because it is ‘better’ than the rest but rather because it ‘speaks’ to them.
Others’ work can inspire and excite but for me it can also upset, de-rail and confuse. People with strong opinions and a persuasive personality are something I watch out for as being in their company quite often leaves me with the impression that my work is no good and that I have nothing to say. What I have to say is what I have to say. My job is to describe well what I think about people and what I feel is good about people; to describe dignity; to have witnessed others.