This is an inward looking story of the banality of my life. Due to circumstances that I dont need to share my lifestyle has changed considerably over the past year. From my own business as a consultant in the construction industry with work all over the UK and parts of Europe I am now a carer for an elderly disabled parent, a task which is mine to complete until times takes it course. My world is now within a third of an acre that is home, with the once a week visit to the supermarket, peppered with occasional visits for car servicing and the doctor. It is repetitious and banal.
To portray this through photography was it seemed an easy task. For the first week of shooting I used the Leica MM, a dedicated monochrome range finder, assuming that monochrome was the medium and that with its ability to make high quality images at 2500 ISO I would hand hold the camera. Images were OK but there was an element of artistry, especially when in dark rooms I used wide apertures and a resulting shallow depth of field. It simply didnt look banal, it looked interesting. Moving on I used the MM again with a tripod and shot at f16 with long shutter speeds. Less arty (in the defined sense) but for once for me monochrome was not working and I needed colour, albeit the subdued colours of and ordinary home. Another set (maybe 50 or so) were then shot on the Leica M9P using a 50mm lens at f16. The choice all along to use ragefinder type cameras I felt gave me the necessary feel of shooting something private, indoors. The Nikon DSLR equipment seems too commercial and not right, but thats difficult to explain. Once again though I was being overly creative, perhaps too virtuoso in my need to make work that is different. At one stage I was using a table top tripod on the floor and shooting from a height of 6 inches. This produced images that were interesting but for the wrong reasons. They may well be suitable for something later on and offer a different viewpoint if nothing else. Again I had to consider what it was I am trying to say. It should be banal, thats my life, so it needed to be simpler. The final shoot happened yesterday and it was simple, maybe being completed in 12 frames. I loaded the 6x6 with Portra 400 (rated at 320) fitted the 75mm standard lens, put the tripod at full height so the camera was at normal viewing height and took the photographs of my world. No special lighting so simple incident readings were taken, f16/22 as we see naturally a large depth of field and moved around the house on a journey visiting all the places of interest. The kitchen sink, the bathroom, the comode etc, thinking how different it would be to perhaps going the the Lake District and doing a feature on sheep farming or the North Norfolk Coast to photograph the crab fishermen. Those cliched routes are of course valuable as an editorial feature, as many people will never have seen those subjects and together with the overt scenery, interesting characters and possibilities to manipulate the images with increased contrast etc, their appeal is commercial if nothing else.Those opportunities will come back to me one day but not right now. My images will require the viewer to engage with the subject matter on a different level, to see metaphors and become engaged in my world via the photographs. The objects within the images will be familiar to an extent that they are passed by every day, but I am offering a chance to stop and look deeper, to consider the cups, the plates, knives forks, etc as objects of design. In a few days the negs will come back and I will scan and PP them, hopefully retaining the simplistic approach adopted so far.
I have been influenced to some extent by the work of Nigel Shafran (b.1964) although it was quite a surprise when I researched his work how similar it was to my own. This due in some extent to looking for others after I had made my own images, which is probably not the normal routine of research, plan, shoot. It is now clearer that the banal and the mundane do need to be photographed in an understated style with ambient light and long exposures. He resists the urge to construct scenes and I have also found it more real to not tinker with props, condemning the image with untidy composition which is after all how we are most of the time.
On reflection it may be asking too much that one roll of 12 frames will fill the brief (having made more than 100 or so digitally) but I will have to see.