One of the things I have been accused of… no, let’s call it feedback… is that I don’t take pictures of people, only things.
I’m going through an exercise at the moment of photographing my old negative filing sleeves to make a set of digital contact prints. At the same time I am writing-up simple filing notes using key terms so that I can find things again. This is all proving very interesting and reflective.
I have plenty of pictures of people, but I have realised that I tend to only print or show the ones of current people: family, friends and so on. It’s part of my (endearing) weirdness that I don’t think anyone would be interested in looking at people they don’t know. And yet I wrote about the power of some photographic exhibitions that were all pictures of people I didn’t know. I can’t claim to have their skill, compassion or insight, but I do have some nice pictures of people.
Another strand to the story is that I recently made a photobook for my mum, filled with old family photos and ones I had taken over the years. Part of the joy is the way my parents looked at each other, from an early picture with a newborn me rolling in my dad’s arms like a truculent piglet to the pair of them sat in the shade in their garden.
We also have the corridor of fame at home. This was a proper corridor in the old house, but in the new one has taken-over the study. The corridor was lined, floor to ceiling, with pictures of friends and family. There is more wall space in the study in the new house, so the pictures haven’t yet covered every wall. It’s a riotous assembly of rogues though.
So here’s the plan. I now have a project. I am going to find and print all of the people pictures I have (that I like). I am also going to fill a folder on my computer with short-cut links to the picture files so that I have the set collected into a single place. I will do the prints at postcard size. This will give me a set of new material for the wall of fame. It will also let me curate a set of images into a running order, as I liked the photobook so much I might do another one. This is what the folder of shortcuts will be for: to give me a quick method of dealing with a scattered set of files. The discovery and selection process is also fascinating, as I have been taking pictures for a long time. How skinny and young we used to be! As a boy I could have escaped from a locked room down a garden hose. These days you would have to beat me with the hose to get me moving.
The selection criteria will be simple though: pictures I like that contain people. So, look out, world! Coming to a few select friends and a wall near me, the limited edition photobook Peeps.*
Actually, that sounds a bit creepy. But People I have shot would make me sound like an American. Or perhaps I go all White Album? Content first: there’s a long way to go before I worry about what to call it.
* Look up Harry Enfield and Stavros.