This photo was inspired by a discussion with another couple of photographers here. The image was of a mundane scene with no obvious and particular significance and yet the title was this: The photo below is probably the most significant photo I have ever taken! Accordingly the gap between the title and the scene drove my interest and gave rise to this photo of the day.
This photo shows my home. I have lived here since 1986 and love the house, location, neighbours and just about everything about the place. It’s just like millions of other homes around London and very ordinary in that sense. But this is MY home.
While living here I have worked mostly in central London but have worked as far away as Stanmore and Mill Hill, but I have never every been tempted to move. Yes I would prefer a garage at the side of the house rather than the back and I’d like larger rooms (I’m writing this in the little box room above the front door). But Greg and Alex were both born here and have grown up in the house and so it holds many wonderful memories (and still more yet to come hopefully). When we first moved here some people challenged our choice of a house rather than flat or bungalow, but there is something pleasing about living in a house that is missing from the others.
My relationship with the road goes back further – when I was a boy my two best friends lived in this road and the next and I used to be jealous of the location as its in the heart of Beckenham and everything is on hand like shops trains, trams etc. We’ve done a lot to the house, extended and improved it and made it “our” home. This is what it looked like around the time we first moved in (although we had the ramp built to the front door as it had two steps when we bought it).
I lived in the front room when we first moved in as the house needed lots of adapting to meet my needs. Now it’s not perfect by any means, but its pretty near it.
In terms of choices for the image I shot the photo in the morning so the sun was behind me and at F/11 so all is sharp. I chose to include the neighbours’ houses because we get on so well with them and feel part of a community rather than just us, and I wanted to reflect that. I did not adjust the colour as it provides a contemporary feel. I did consider asking Karen to stand at the front door but felt that would move the narrative away from place and more toward person and I wanted this photo to be about place.
I think my approach is almost the opposite of Judy Fiskin’s houses in her Dingbat series. She both chose and reinforced the isolation of the buildings through point of view and treatment with small images, heavy wide boarders and bleached processing. She disengaged her subject matter from its context where here I want to do the opposite.
A different image
This image below is almost the polar opposite from the one of my home. It was taken yesterday when I went to Marks and Spencer’s to pick up some oranges. This is all about emphasis, line. colour and design. I use their lift, they watch me use their lift. I’ve tried to transform that reality into something other that is both worldly and unworldly.
I’ve used colour and monochrome to make the statement and so this is less about revelation and more about interpretation and in that sense more Andrea Stone’s City Reflections. Did I think of the colour wheel? Yes. Should I mix colour and monochrome? Why not. What is the effect? A form of solace in the process and satisfaction with the end product.
Interesting to see how you have clearly illustrated your reason for the significance of an ‘ordinary’ photo for your audience, but still how this significance transforms the image.
Indeed Paul. I suppose that’s the exact point (put more succinctly) I wanted to make regarding your image. Your label stated its significant to you but without directing the viewer. Thus whereas Clive enjoyed reading the image I felt a little frustrated because I wanted to know how why when etc. All of that started this train of thought 🙂
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