Thursday, June 20, 2013

Twenty visits down

I'm about half way through the Brighton project now in terms of visits - 20 visits made and a similar number to go.

I've made a rough edit of 57 photos out of 70 "possibles" out of several thousand taken. The majority of "surplus" consists of numerous minute variations of the same shot for the static, non-peopled stuff. I like doing those sorts of shots, but it's hard work - I never have the confidence to take just one of a given scene and then move on, as Eggleston claims to do...

[thumbnails - extreme example - six almost identical shots]

I'm reasonably pleased with the results so far - a consistent look and hopefully free of Brighton cliches. While not avoiding the seafront altogether, the catchy phrase that sometimes pops into my head is "the city behind the seaside".

[thumbnails - possible edit of 57. Click for larger version]

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Brighton Visit number 17

Visit 16 wasn’t much to write home about. Visit 17 on Bank Holiday Monday, 27 May didn’t get off to a promising start either, as trains were stopping for the morning at Worthing, several miles short of Brighton, due to a fatality further along the line.

I intended to wander around Worthing for a couple of hours until the lines reopened and I could continue my journey. On the off-chance, I rang up an old colleague from a communications agency that I’d worked at 15 years ago in Worthing to see if he wanted to meet up.

I hadn’t been in touch with David Blann for over 10 years, but by a spooky coincidence when I bought my copy of 2012’s The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton* a few weeks ago, he was credited as the book’s designer, along with his phone number. Cue Twilight Zone music. As it happened, this kind-hearted designer for print (Creative-Director-at-David-Blann-Design-and-available-for-freelance-work) ended up giving me a lift to Brighton, so that worked out well.

To Brighton
It turned out to be a satisfactory day from a photographic point of view (although confusing for my GPS software not to start and end at Brighton station). Along the way I learnt a little about the life of Lee Miller, which I might blog about a bit later. Two of the photos I was reasonably pleased with were taken within a few minutes and metres of each other – often the way – one thing leading to another.

The first reminded me of the old “problem” about how far away or indistinct the putative subject of the photo can be, and still maintain interest.

[Hall © Paul Russell 2013. Click for larger version]

As Szarkowski said about later period Winogrand in the essay from Figments from the Real World [p. 38]

"Winogrand made thousands of pictures of people who were too far away to be described in detail, perhaps to test how much could be conveyed in terms of posture, stride, silhouette, autographic gesture. … Surely he was interested in the formal photographic problem: What was the greatest distance at which [they] could be convincingly described?"

And the second testing the limits of the camera:

[Gardens © Paul Russell 2013. Click for larger version]

And plenty for my growing ‘pleasant-abstract-but-doesnt-really-say-anything-about-Brighton or could-have-been-taken-anwhere’ categories, e.g.

[Entrance © Paul Russell 2013. Click for larger version]

Again, a fair day's "work" done and a brisk walk back to the train station for the 6.33 for Weymouth.

*The encylopaedia is also available from Brighton Library for the same price.