The final stages of a PhD are nerve-wracking and taxing, more so than the rest of the three years of work put together.  And while the final draft of the thesis is with the copy editor I am editing, processing, and printing the images for my book, considering layouts on the page, and deciding on additional pages for an Introduction or denoting sections.  But before I get to the print stage there is much to do.  Not least, I cannot defer my choice of images any longer and I have to be clear about why I have chosen the images and in what ways they suggest allure.  It is time to kill the darlings and take decisions about some of the images that I find difficult to leave out.  But that is the challenge of curating and some of the images have been with me from an early stage of my PhD.  I guess this is why curating is a skill and art in itself and why we would professionally employ a curator rather than being both artist and curator which is the case with a PhD.  But less is sometimes more, and my page limit is thirty.

The process of choosing the images has led me to rethink why some stand out and others do not.  The deciding factor for me is how is Being manifested in the image – where is the trace of Being as the title of my book denotes.  For example, with the lone silver birch tree images I have realised that most of them demonstrate the individual nature of Being, its strength over adversity, its resilience to bounce back from the latest storm or cold winter, and yet its fragility and slender form.  While the water lily images are much more overtly about the entanglement of the physical world and Being – their interconnections with the reeds, the roots and tendrils below the surface, their ability to fight for survival against other plants and the inclement weather.  In order to make decisions about each image, I have been displaying them one by one, on full screen and for over ten minutes.  This is so that I can dwell in the image in a similar way to how I was dwelling in the landscape at the moment of capture.  In some ways, I attempt to recover those feelings of Being outside space and time – that realisation of Being that sometimes, but not always manifests itself.  It may be a nuance of tonality in the water, a glimmer of light, a moment in time when the revelation occurs.

While my priority is to reveal Being, as an artist it is difficult not to consider the aesthetics of an image too.  Furthermore, I actually consider that allure is, in part, about the aesthetics of my subject.  I would certainly not consider my work to be representational in the traditional sense, but on the other hand, my work is intended to capture aspects of reality.  What I like to do is focus on or enhance that reality for others to see, through various photographic techniques discussed previously in this journal.  Whether it be allowing nature to paint its own pictures by using slow shutter speeds, intentional camera movement or combining multiple exposures.  Another consideration in my image choices has been to represent different weather, times of year and seasons.  Providing a sense of how the weight of Being ebbs and flows.  I also enjoy working with reflections, of the watery kind, and how they provide a sense of the natural entanglement between land and water and transport the nature of Being beyond the individual to its inevitable interconnectedness.  My final consideration is how the images flow from one to the next, and the range of colour palettes.

After identifying and working on a number of previously neglected images and printing them on the Hahnemuhle William Turner paper I finally have a first draft of my book.  All will be revealed in due course.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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