I took my photography students out on a practical this morning around the local woods. My idea is always to introduce learners to the multitude of possibilities that photography offers and the means of self expression that it allows.
I’ve just seen a post on Facebook which rather appeals to me although I’d have said ‘piss’ ! It’s a much better word if you accentuate the ‘p’ and let the ‘iss’ trail off.
Sometimes I look at my images and think ‘your images are shit Andy’ so I stop looking and go do something else. A photographer contacted me a few months back and told me my images weren’t as good as I thought they were. I emailed him back and politely told him to fuck off ! Sometimes I think Art is as much about failure as it as about success. Pushing boundaries, experimentation, stretching limits, testing thoughts, moving forward to destinations unknown. I find these days a lot of my images appear when I’m not looking for them. Out for a walk yesterday, I looked down in front of me and suddenly Jackson Pollock made sense. A mate noted on Facebook about one my images being about the ‘transient nature of things’. Indeed ! I think I might do some more of these. The song in my head at the moment is ‘Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache’.
The circle of foam I photographed the other day ( see previous post ) is, as predicted, no longer there. It’s just a big blob of foam now. I didn’t photograph it because frankly it just wasn’t as interesting anymore. Further up the stream however was a discarded football taking a break from its life’s journey, either to be retrieved by someone or to continue downstream. I’ve a feeling I’ll be seeing it again. I threw some branches and rocks to see if I could send it on its way but only managed to hinder its progression further. The dog enjoyed it, he thought I was throwing for him and he barked excitedly before chewing the nearest branch. He does that when he gets excited. Starts to chew something.
I’ve decided I might do a series of images from my walks with the dog. I’m gonna call it ‘walks with the dog’ or I might go for ‘out with Harry’. Images captured while pondering the meaning of everything while out with the little beast. There’s a wonderful essay about dogs in Robert Adams ‘ Why People Photograph’ published by that robust photographic organisation Aperture. It starts off with a quote from a bloke called Henry Beetle Hough ‘ A man without a dog is like a bird without a song’. I’ll go for that.
I found myself pondering Art this morning. What is Art ? Who can call themselves an Artist and does it really matter anyway ? I’ll get back to you when, and if I formulate my thoughts on the subject.
There was some superb lighting just out the front door yesterday.
The wife’s gone to work today. ” Can I beseech you not to do any washing ? and don’t kill the dog” she said as she collected her bag and disappeared out the door this morning. I wasn’t thinking of doing any washing anyway; woe betide anyone who interferes with my wife’s washing policy. I finished my porridge and coffee, I can’t function until I’ve had a coffee and suggested to the dog we go for a walk. He looked at me as if to say “yeah sure; where the fuck are we going this time ?” The voice in my head told me to take my camera. It often does and I don’t ignore it. I usually come back with something. The itch needs scratching.
It’s a typical English February day; cold, dull, grey, dank,miserable, wet , dull, dull, dull, dull etc etc blah blah. A lot of photographers might just go back to bed or clean their shoes, but for me a day like this is a challenge. No such thing as bad lighting.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the Peter Dench talk. He thinks about a story and goes out taking pictures which fit that story. He wants to document the English and their alcohol habits and so he goes out looking for images which fit that story; that brief. He phones up magazine editors and tell them what he wants to document and they say ‘ yeah sure, show us what you’ve got when you get back and if we like em we’ll publish em’. Personally I prefer the approach of going out and looking for the story but I’m not trying to make money out of my images and I don’t give a shit if nobody wants to buy my work…… anymore ! I’ve begun to regard my disposition as something of a luxury and I think my photography practice is better for it. I’m working to my own agenda and nobody else’s and I’m enjoying myself again. That’s what photography should be about, enjoying oneself. Speaking of which I see the International Center for Photography in New York has decided to give Elliott Erwitt a lifetime achievement award !
Anyway I’ve taken about 50 images this morning of which there’s a couple I’m quite happy with. I came across the above scene on the return part of the walk. That circle of foam won’t be there tomorrow. Everything and everything is on a journey, and I mean everything ! I rattled off about 20 shots at different angles of which the above is the best but I’ll kick the image around a bit, do some editing and see what happens over time. Don’t ask me why I took it or what was going off in my head but ‘shoot first ask questions later’. I love the process !
I must have walked and ran past this next scene hundreds of times but something today made me stop and look at it. If something catches my eye, makes me stop and look at it, then that’s usually a good enough reason to make an image. Does it move into the realms of ‘Fine Art’ photography ? Do I give a shit ? ‘Andy Greaves captures those things which most people wouldn’t give a second glance to’. I feel an Artist Statement coming on.
I’m under strict instructions not to rant on social media ! My wife doesn’t think it’s good for me. It leaves me grumpy and unsatisfied. She has a point and I’m trying to wean myself off it in favour of spending my time doing more positive and rewarding things like researching other photographers, writing articles, loving the dog and the wife a bit more and keeping warm. It’s too bloody easy to embroil oneself in pointless circular arguments with other faceless users; it’s just that I can’t stand people who are bigoted, racist, hypocrites, religious zealots, stupid, or all of those things together wrapped up in one neat little nasty package and I feel these people should have their views challenged from time to time. Any road, the wife’s been at work today so me and the dog took a walk to the woods where I used to muck about as a kid. My Walton woods series continues. You can see more of this ongoing series on my website and I do hope you’ll take a look. I’m not trying to sell you anything either www.andyjgreaves.co.uk