“Just wanted to say, I LOVE these images.” (Chris Weston 11 August 2019).
In response to my request for any hints or tips in perfecting my technique I received the following:
“Just keep doing what you’re doing, and keep photographing the internal story rather than the external event. You’ve made the leap from recorder to “photographer” which is something few people manage. I always knew you had it in you and it’s wonderful to see it emerge!” (Chris Weston 29 August 2019).
The comments were in response to my post in Week 10 entitled In Search of Depth and Luminosity https://wp.me/p9BvX0-KF. It included some recent images I had produced on Loch Cill Chriosd:
Chris, as many of you will know, is a widely respected and influential wildlife photographer. I have known him for about fourteen years and greatly admire his work. I have travelled the world with him, including Africa, Alaska and Antarctica, being inspired by his image making that displays a huge empathy with the wildlife he photographs. I love the way in which he shares with the viewer an insight into the animals’ world and in doing this Chris also shares a little of himself.
I have spent a while reflecting on what he said and found myself remembering some of my own words in my original Research Project Proposal submitted in the first module Positions and Practice:
“In this Research Project I will develop my photographic practice through a personal journey that involves death, darkness, hope and the emergence of light. It will reflect the silence that is always present at the scene of violent crime – the traces of humanity, intensely vulnerable and rendered insignificant by the events and forces around them. I appreciate that my photography here does not fit a neat genre – the way I choose to describe it is ‘phenomenological photography’, where what matters is not the object of my experience but my experience of the object.” (Price 2018:3).
I pursued this path until Sustainable Prospects when I devoted my time to making images of The Reeds of Loch Cill Chriosd. Rather than taking wide, dark and moody landscape shots I focused on the tender but resilient stems of the reeds in this small Loch, acting as a metaphor for some of the challenges, feelings and emotions of my own personal life, but also acting as a wider metaphor for the Isle of Skye itself – vulnerable yet resilient, strong and dramatic yet hidden. In my Critical Review of Practice for Informing Contexts I wrote:
“However, this phenomenological approach – whilst challenging – became an uncomfortable philosophical constraint. Like well-worn shoes it appeared to fit, except there was grit in the sole. That grit was the reality of Skye that transcends personal experience and insists on being noticed. Looking through the lens of my experience I could see the sea, lochs, mountains and moors. These are its sensible properties, but there are other properties that transcend individual experience: the ‘otherness’ of its geography, the vulnerability of its ecology and its ephemeral hiddenness. There are others too – it is an enigmatic place where mystery and normality lie cheek and jowl within its history and culture.
These are its real properties and it is this essence of ‘otherness’, vulnerability, ephemerality and enigma that mirrors my own understanding of myself and the consequences of my early career as a police photographer. Reflecting upon the real essence of Skye as something I felt, rather than consciously experience, I sought to contextualise that within my practice” (Price 2019:1-2).
What I have been trying to achieve from the beginning has been to enter on a journey. I spoke about this in Sustainable Prospects in the context of the layers of meaning in my imagery. In my images, I ask the viewer to spend a while with me, taking time in looking and seeing the layers of meaning and metaphor in my images reflecting the depth of my experience of the Island. Objective disengagement will not work, at a casual glance, all my images show is an allusion of presence and, indeed, those looking for a literal representation of Skye will be disappointed.
When I talk about seeking the “ephemeral hiddenness” in my current work I am looking to capture fleeting and transitory glimpses and this is about spending hours in the landscape waiting for that decisive moment – but the decisive moment for me is not about narrative – it is about the Island’s presence and being. As I drift deeper into my internal world the hiddenness of Skye emerges itself – in an almost dreamlike quality. The emerging moment is transitory but when it comes it brings clarity and certainty in the being that is revealed. This being is both, at once, permanent and ephemeral and can only be glimpsed. When you look for it, it disappears. – these are the fleeting glimpses I seek to capture through my lens. One might call it the eternal moment.
Price, A. 2018. Research Project Proposal: The Road to Elgol – my Personal Journey. Positions and Practice. MA Photography.
Price, A. 2019. Critical Review of Practice. Informing Contexts. MA Photography