I spent last week in week in North Yorkshire, partly to get some photo practice, but mostly to escape the olympics. At home, we’re pretty much surrounded by 2012 stuff and it feels like a depressing wasteland where I live right now.
Anyway, complaining about the crap foisted upon us (and for which we’re paying) in the name of sport, is not the point of this little piece. I want to say a bit more about holiday photography.
After my previous post on the subject, I promised myself that I would spend more time thinking about the purpose of any photo I took whilst I was away on holiday. In particular, to focus on what I believed made my best holiday images work – familiar subjects in unfamiliar settings.
ignoring the brief
However, despite the promise I made, whilst I was away I didn’t really pay much attention to my self-imposed brief. North Yorkshire is a pretty familiar place for me, making the search for interesting pictures that little bit harder. Once again, it was a social occasion, which meant time to contemplate was limited (or non-existent) and, even though we’re all keen photographers, we weren’t that serious about making great pictures whilst we were out. Fresh air and good beer were the prime preoccupations. The photographs we took were mostly something we did whilst we were pausing for breath on our walks.
Towards the end of the trip, however, I realised that time was the crucial factor and that’s the reason taking pictures had been relegated to a background activity. It’s unreasonable to expect on, a 25Km walk in an afternoon, that you will have the time to contemplate a scene and make a well-considered picture. It takes time to study your surroundings and to reflect on one’s response to it. It takes time to find the scene that captures one’s ideas about a place and finally to execute the photograph in the most appropriate way. Occasionally, there can be lucky accidents and a stunning image emerges without a lot of forethought, but that’s a rare occurrence. You need time and that had not been factored in to the trip’s schedule. Most good work, in any medium, is the result of diligent observation and thoughtful contemplation. For me, this was exemplified in David Hockney’s recent show at the RA, which admittedly is not about photography, but it is very much about repeated observation.
Good photography is hard work and a holiday is supposedly the antithesis. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from my holiday photos – they (and should be) are just holiday snaps. Maybe when I was younger I had more time to relax on holiday and therefore more time to consider what I was doing. I don’t believe I’m applying tougher standards to my photography now, than I did a couple of decades ago. I’m pretty pleased with some of the photos I got back then and, in the days of expensive film, I took far fewer photos. I feel the likeliest explanation is I do a different kind of photography now and that’s changed the way I look at things.
I still think there’s merit in taking time to consider photographs taken when one is at leisure, perhaps trying to develop a brief is going that bit too far. I need to reflect on this some more.
So, this holiday’s photos are in much the same vein as the previous set. A bunch of images, recording, in a more or less chronological fashion, the scenes we encountered on our trip. A mini documentary, you might say. Enjoy.