The Queue

Four letters following the important one lead me to London to take pictures.

As usual, though, it’s never about the first thing that comes to mind with me. I’m a republican with a small ‘r’, I like the thought of a monarchy based on a more European idea, something like the Dutch or Danish idea of a reduced familial footprint focussed on low-key ceremonial functions rather than full-on pomp and pageantry.

So why did I want to go and have a look?

It wasn’t to join, although I did walk to the start. When I heard the news of the death, I connected it to my mother’s death some years ago. The “stages” are there, they have been processed several times but still, a vestige of the grief remains and seeing the spectrum of responses from people – from angry swearing about the institution to tears about the death, let me think that I might use this as a proxy to see how my personal grief was resting.

Unsurprisingly, I was moved by the whole process. The instantaneous transfer of power on the day itself, through the steamroller of the constitutional process, to the volume of people proceeding in a stop/start way from Southwark Park to Westminster. I’m glad I was a small part of it. My own personal grief persists and it felt good to connect with people who looked like they were feeling everything I had felt over the years.

Coming together

So this iteration of the site is starting to take shape. The first time I used WordPress, I chose to host it on a service I selected for its price. On top of that, I bought a theme pack that did everything, including washing the dishes as far as I can tell. This combination brought the site to its knees very quickly and led to me trying Zenfolio for a year after I’d spent a lot of time trying to get the site to a state where it was reasonably responsive. Zenfolio was a significant improvement, easy to set up, maintain and update but expensive, as sales and commissions have been on the slow side, I decided to see what else might be on the market.

One of the things I used in my selection for hosting was to look at many recommendations from various photography sites. Oddly enough, I don’t remember them mentioning Amazon’s AWS or Google’s Compute platforms. Both of these have click-to-deploy WordPress setups which require filling in a few passwords and your hand is held pretty well.

This site is hosted on Google’s Compute platform at the moment. I’m using a simple theme with a couple of plugins to manage and display photographs and the performance seems pretty good. One of the things I like about WordPress is its modularity, so when I need to add sales or booking, it should be a relatively easy task.

Back to WordPress

Moving from Zenfolio to a compute instance of WordPress on Google has proved challenging but nothing I haven’t been able to handle and, to be honest, it’s been nice to get under the hood of a hosting solution.

Back from COVID

I seem to have lucked out with my first COVID infection. There will probably be more but this one wiped me out for a while. I’m slowly getting back into taking pictures so will update this more frequently from now on.

Amsterdam 2020

My last trip to Amsterdam was deliberately timed to be when the UK (or the majority of it) left the EU at the end of January 2020. Ever since I’ve been aware that we, as a country, were part of something bigger than ourselves, I have felt European and I still do, despite our current political status. As a member of Generation X, I’ve grown up without that feeling of a loss of empire or the sense of a martial victory over our closest neighbours that seem to afflict the generation prior to mine – the ‘boomers’. What has this got to do with this picture? I was there for four days and during that time, I discovered where three of the tracks went and only one of the roads. It was taken on my first night in the hotel, arriving earlier that evening. My sense of loss at the time had filled me with sadness and I felt as if the separation was permanent and total, leading to a more monochromatic view of the world. Looking back at it now, it is neither of those, things are only more difficult and challenging than they have been. I’ll be back!

Style and Vision

Understanding why I do what I do is important to me and I’ve been spending time trying to develop some further understanding of why I do it. So, this is part two of an earlier post where I started to examine the question.

I’ve mentioned that there is a torrent of information (pictures, reviews, tips, how-tos’ and never-ending lists) that I am aware of and try to remain abreast of which means I look at about 120 different articles a day. Today, I was looking through my collection of these (I use to collect and collate links) and picked out a video entitled “How To Find Your Style In Photography” by Pat Kay. This led me to another one of his, called “The REAL Secret To Get Better At Photography – Vision“. These two have helped me make a little more sense of how I currently work and what I’d like to achieve by talking about how these elements can be combined and how that leads to learning the language of visual storytelling. 

I was going to say that it’s like learning a new language but it really feels like learning how to talk again.

A Personal Project – Shaftesbury, Dorset

Learning photography while living in the sticks has been a bit of a challenge. I’ve listened to the advice telling me to shoot whatever is around me and, as I travel to Shaftesbury at least a couple of times a week, a significant chunk of my archive is made up of pictures of this Saxon hilltop town. I always try to travel with purpose, remaining observant and have noticed that maintaining a heightened level of awareness of my situation, the composition, lighting, and camera settings while being in the moment might be relaxing at some point. 

Why Taking Photographs Matters to Me

So, while I’m kept busy learning the “how” of photography. You know, taking pictures, making mistakes, I’ve also spent some time and money learning about WordPress, web hosting and plugins as well as various other ways of spending money.

That led me to ask if I was getting a good return for the investment of my time and money, to which the answer, after two years, two hosting companies and a pretty decent attempt at self-hosting, is a resounding “no”.

My intention with photography has always been to generate some form of income from it and there are various organisational frameworks I’m using to explore potential revenue streams of which this site is a part. Underlying this though, is a deeper question, apart from the obvious financial answer, why am I doing this? This prompted some thinking and I’m still working it out. Luckily, I found a podcast that asks this question, at the United Nations of Photography 

Thinking on this, I realise that the answer differs slightly, depending on the intention of the shoot. When I am working for you, I translate what you want into a frozen moment that best represents what you wish to convey to your clients, potential and actual. On a personal project, the experience is not filtered, I attempt to convey the feelings that I am experiencing, having chosen to be in that place, at that time, with those people, even if they are unaware of my proximity and view. This is a projection of my personal experience of ageing as I progress in the latter half of my life.

Inspiration comes from the photographic work of Robert Frank, Robert Adams, Setefano Perego, Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre, Roberto Conte, Arseniy Kotov, Austin Granger, Christopher Herwig, and many others.

Lockdown Ghosts

As the UK comes out of what’s felt like a period of hibernation, I’ve been on a couple of trips. The first was to London for architectural purposes and while on this, I became aware that I felt like I was still in a bubble. There were (some) people around me, but I felt disconnected and a bit alone. Those who know me, know this isn’t an unusual state for me to be in but this was different. It’s almost like those around me were all acting out what they *should* be doing, going through the motions as if they weren’t really there. So, the idea of ghosts came to mind.

The place I visit most regularly is Bath, in the South West UK. It’s a popular tourist destination, and I’ve had the good fortune to live there for a good chunk of my life. I had to visit the centre to pick something up and had decided that taking the camera with me to get some pictures with a new ND filter was a good idea. Could I capture the feeling? I think I might have.

Lockdown Ghosts