This is part of a project I’ve had going for a while. It’s about aesthetics and observation. I’m trying to strip everything I can out of the process of making an image and then see what’s left.
Each summer for the past thirty-odd years we’ve spent a couple of weeks here at the same beach.
The idea is that every now and again I’ll walk out of the front of our house and stand in the same spot near the sea, point the camera in the same direction and make a frame.
I started this in 2019, skipped 2020 and am back in to it in 2021. I have the idea of maybe getting it up to 100 frames over a few years, and planning to do it again in 2022.
I made my little Canon Snappy shoot square images by putting plastic flags inside the frame. I wanted square images but I was all dogma about not wanting to crop. This was part of the deal – no changes to the image once I’d pressed the shutter.
So – the process was just this; the light would grab me for some reason so I’d pick up the camera and make a frame. Just whenever I felt like it – when I thought it would look good, I guess. I’d do this at odd times over the two weeks we were there.
Part of the idea was to explore the nature of the part the photographer plays. I’m trying to minimise my input by using a point and shoot and not adjusting any of the frames – no cropping, no curves, no tweaking the files – just using them completely as they were.
It’s a very simple camera and there really was no skill involved. All I did was press the shutter. I could give instructions and anyone could do it, I guess.
In the time since I started the project I’d also started to develop my ideas about repetition; using repetition as a tool to make the observer look more closely.
Initially I’d called the project “Dave’s Boring Pictures of the Beach”. I was really doing everything I could to make these “nothing” photos. I’ve deliberately tried to take any skill out of the process. Once the photos are made I’m abdicating any editorial responsibility.
You may feel that I’m succeeding admirably in making a boring piece of shit; I won’t be offended if you let me know this in the comments because I’m still genuinely scratching my head over this. And yet – the process did yield something interesting in terms of making work to exhibit. The show I had in 2020 that contained the first lot of these was well received. It might not work on a website, but walking up and down past a bunch of 55cm prints on a wall did seem to work. If you want to see more about that exhibition – here’s a link.
If you count – there are only 28 square images here. This year I screwed up; By mistake I used a roll that I’d already put into my Olympus Trip 35 for another project. I thought the film wasn’t winding on, but it was. I didn’t bother to mark the film as a partially used one because I thought all the exposures were made over the same frame. I just put it back in the fridge and forgot I’d used it. But the film actually had been winding on so about 10 frames had already been exposed. (Because the Trip winds left to right and the Snappy winds the other way, the Snappy shots are upside down in relation to the Trip’s.)
I thought I’d show them because it is a #fullroll after all – but I did learn something also. I often use a technique of only partially winding on the film so my frames overlap – I’m getting good result from this.
That process has an element of chance to it. You never know how far you’ve would on the film, or exactly where the framing will be. I’m getting better at it as I go along, but there are lots of variables at play and the results are always slightly unexpected and not really possible to plan too exactly. What I didn’t get from this roll though was any happy accidents. There are parts of these frames that do contain some nice elements, but it also made me realise that my random shooting is actually planned more closely than I thought.
So there you go: out of this roll I’ve got 28 images that I might use one day, and I’ve learned something too. Thanks for reading and I hope there’s something useful and enjoyable in there. Cheers.
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