The next stage of this new chapter is moving on. Stan the van is now in my possession, I just need to get it sorted for short trips and it will be ready. I've been looking for the right photo equipment too and I think I've come to the conclusion that doing up my Mamiya kit and getting better lenses is the right way forward. As I think I've mentioned the 645 format gives just the right amount of grain for the image to be a photograph but not too much as to let the image loose quality (I know, get a Leica, yaddy yadda, you get a Leica!)..
My thinking behind the van is that it will give me a way of getting out, comfortably enough, so I can be there to start taking photographs again properly. The words "there" and "properly" are frustrating at the moment because neither of them have any meaning just yet. I guess I'm just relying on the old adage, "go out and start shooting".
But, I need some kind of starting point... I need to collate all the knowledge, history and thoughts I've accumulated and try to set myself out on a path. This website is one place to start working on this and I will try to do better uploading images (I seem to have been caught scanning the histories of my friends rather than my photographic journey (although I guess it's all the same in the end)). I also need to start seeing work again to get some inspiration, the van can help with that too.
However there are fundamentals that I can absolutely say for sure (I think) that I want new work to be about:
The wilderness - As in subjects related to, not necessarily pictures of the wilderness (where the bloody hell is that anyway). Seeing the Wild was about the experience and trauma of wilderness within the inner city; that loss of control and fear of the unknown. Wilderness as a 21st Century notion can't be related (certainly in the UK) to place, it has to be a subjective thing. So where is it? A photograph is a recording of a thing at a point of time. So perhaps the notion of photographing the wilderness is a metaphor for a link, between ourselves and...
The human form - As context. Wilderness is just "other" space unless our great collective consciousness has perceived it - if there is no human knowledge of a place, there is no context, its not wilderness as its unknown. It takes some kind of perception to make that place into a wilderness. As soon as someone perceives a place as wilderness they add their own meaning to it. Therefore as a symbol of connection from the unknown to the perceived wilderness, the human form must be within the pictures in some way. Photography has a great way of creating empathy between the person in the picture and the person viewing it, the subjective meaning and personal perspective automatically flows through this interplay. In the images I'm thinking about, this could be from the wilderness to the human form in the picture to the viewer.
The Magic - (At this point any Photo Art luminaries reading this will groan,, don't worry I'll get on to documentary in a minute). Connection. At the very least, photography has provided a way for me to psychologically ground. The ritual of making a photograph and the intense visual enquiry of the immediate world around me, its not just a visual thing (lord knows I can't see as well anyway these days). This maybe the way back into wilderness; the awe of the sublime, the connection between us and the universe. The universe can be ultimately malevolent but it can be ultimately benevolent in equal measure. Perhaps this is the crux of what I believe, I'm sure others do too and, from a photography point of view, this swinging pendulum of the sublime is played out all the time, every day in peoples struggles, this is what the best photography is all about. In this country we live close to the fulcrum of this pendulum, where the swing is only gently felt (most of the time). Perhaps the notion of wilderness is out there along its levers. The sublime, fear and awe of the unknown, destruction, creation and beauty.
Documentary or the canon of - Its important these aren't constructed images. I have learnt enough now and I guess come to a happy place with my preferred description of photography. Photography was (sorry, err, is) a recording of an event, a snapshot of the world, fixed (and this is important to me) via a chemical process to a bit of plastic or glass. The photographer has a lesser or greater part to play in choosing, framing, lighting and, yes, manipulating the finished image. However in the documentary canon, the event takes president, the more the captured event is straight into the camera with the least interference from the photographer, the better (queue 100 years worth of argument on that one). I have worked with constructed images for some time now and to be honest have gotten myself all up tight in knots about the why's and what for's of digital/constructed/manipulated images, I guess the basic purity of straight film photography is kind of calming.
Any old how, hopefully you should start seeing some images from my journeys soon (lockdowns permitting). I've added a few recent images to this article, but they probably don't reflect where I'm going with this, we'll see.