Familiarity Breeds Content: why it is good to shoot closer to home
Posted: 16 May 2019
Photographers often talk about travel, but sometimes the best images can come from a location that you’re very familiar with. In this blog, Chris Palmer (FRPS, EFIAP, DPAGB, APAGB) looks at how why he thinks photographers don’t necessarily have to go very far to get the best content.
Chris’ interest in photography began in the darkroom when he was seven years old. In 1979, he became involved in club photography as a member of Field End Photographic Society in Ruislip, Middlesex. Now a retired air traffic controller, Chris is a national PAGB judge, lecturer, serves on the RPS Fine Art panel, and holds a Distinction of the PAGB, as well as holding an APAGB award for his services to photography. He is also a member of Amersham Photographic Society, and prints on Fotospeed Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300gsm and NST Bright White 315gsm
This fast-paced world we live in now can create an internal pressure within all of us to constantly keep moving, to strive for improvement, and to believe that the world is always better somewhere else. Photographically this can lead many a photographer to think that there’s always a better location, and perhaps a better picture, just around the corner, but probably not here? However, this can have a detrimental effect upon our ability to ‘work’ a location, to concentrate and apply ourselves, and to capture the very best from where we are NOW. It’s a distraction!
The availability of easy travel to so many parts of the world can also lead us to dismiss the locations that might be lying on our doorstep, or within access of home. Although I too love to travel, I also like to photograph locally, and have learnt of the significant advantages that locations nearby can bring. Firstly, I know where to go, where I can park, and what gear I might need for a photographic session. Secondly, I can react quickly to the weather, and respond when the light and weather are good. Most importantly perhaps, I can also return if I don’t get the best out of a shoot, and to build up a relationship with a place.
One such location that I have photographed regularly is Stoke Common, in Buckinghamshire. It’s an area of flat common land that from the road looks to be an unpromising location. But I know that when conditions are right, (particularly in the winter), that there are pictures to be had if I make the effort to walk onto the common, and start hunting. Over a period of at least 10 years I have gradually accrued a very satisfying portfolio of images, mostly of ice, but also of the trees that surround the common, and the other vegetation too.
My relationship with Fotospeed has provided me with the opportunity to put together 3 print lectures which I present at Camera clubs, the second of which (A Personal Response), features a large panel of my Stoke Common pictures. Whenever I print the paper choice is very important to me. I consider carefully the surface finish, the tonality, saturation, and also the final size of the print that might best portray my work. The ice pictures were printed on Photo Smooth Pearl 290, a general purpose paper, the lustre type surface finish of which is not dissimilar to that of the ice itself. When it comes to print size, I have found that intimate landscape details are far more effective if printed small, (about A4), inviting the viewer to look closely, and to thereby draw them into the picture. The resultant panel of 20 prints always get a good response when I display them.
Recently an opportunity arose for me to also compile and publish a book of my favourite images, with accompanying text, in a hard cover, square format, 42-page volume. I found the whole process immensely satisfying, and learnt much in the production process about page layout, text size and font selection. If you are interested I have a number of copies of my “Stoke Common” book available via my website, www.chrispalmerphotographer.co.uk
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