european union

Preparing for a photography project

More than two years ago I came up with an idea for a photography project, around a year ago I started to make notes and think about the project more intentionally, and three months ago I started to take pictures for the ‘project-proper’. But before all that, this happened…

Despite shooting primarily on digital cameras for the past fifteen years, I have never lost the romance of shooting on film. Amongst a group of photographers I know, I asked if anyone had a medium-format film camera I could test out before I made a purchase. I was very kindly lent a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex (which I’d enjoyed back in my college days), and a Hasselblad C which is several decades old and a little cranky.

I tested the Rollei’ first, and took it out without a tripod, resulting in some wobbly shots and a rather disappointed photographer. I did not enjoy the experience!

Rolleiflex: For this shot I balanced on an electrical box and found some stability leaning over a tall wall.

Rolleiflex: For this shot I balanced on an electrical box and found some stability leaning over a tall wall.



Rolleiflex: Believe me, I have straightened this image up a lot!

Rolleiflex: Believe me, I have straightened this image up a lot!

Next came the Hasselblad, which was instantly more enjoyable, though it was clear that it would take me some time to reacquaint myself with the camera and reach a good level of confidence in using it.

Hasselblad: A sunset shot in Finsbury Park.

Hasselblad: A sunset shot in Finsbury Park.

Since the Brexit vote, I think a lot of people have questioned the place they live, and their fellow citizens, one way or the other. My project is called 4 x 4 x 4, and I will be writing about it via this blog for a long time. It is not about Brexit, but how we think is certainly a part of what informs the project.

With that in mind, and because things were hotting up politically, I decided to record a couple of events that took place earlier this year. Firstly I attended The People’s March on 23rd March in central London. I met up with a couple of friends in North London, and was pleased to bump into other familiar faces as people walked with a spring in their step toward the tube station, ready to show their distaste in the handling of Brexit and asking for a ‘people’s vote'.

I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but I was expecting a bit more venom in the crowd. I’ve discussed this with friends and peers since, and they rightly tell me that now is not the time for strong reactions. I know people will survive, we will survive, but at such momentous times (are they, or do they just feel that way?), why are we so quiet, so stupefied, and right now so bombarded with quips and blatant bullshit. On the back of a single vote we have opened a wild bag of snakes, and taming them is going to take a long time.

Good job the full project is not about Brexit, as I want to understand what makes people tick, and I am attempting to stay neutral and un-opinionated when people respond to questions I might ask.

We still haven’t had it

We still haven’t had it

I find this image full of romance

I find this image full of romance

On Friday 29th March, the original and official date that we were set to leave Europe at 11pm, I had planned to visit Big Ben and record the chiming of the bell at precisely that moment, so that is what I did.

I headed down to the scaffolded tower, and found my place on a surprisingly quiet traffic island with two TV cameramen: one from ITV, one from the BBC. I suppose they were after the same level of authenticity that I was. We exchanged pleasantries, and I think it was the guy from the Beeb who was keen to hear about my project. The only other person who came to witness this moment from our position was a man who was a Leave supporter, and he was adamant that something had fundamentally been missed from legal proceedings, which meant we were in fact technically leaving Europe that night, just that all the experts had failed to acknowledge this. 

As an aside - despite it being very quiet on one side of the Houses of Parliament, when I turned the corner and headed for Parliament Square, I was confronted by a few hundred protestors from the Leave camp, who were disgruntled because we hadn’t actually left the EU that night. I spent around an hour taking pictures (not with the Hasselblad) as tens of police tried to keep the crowd calm. There was a bit of shouting and some traffic disruption, but all in all it was peaceful.

For whom the bell tolls

For whom the bell tolls

And so, here you see the picture’s I took in March, but I had got to the point that I believed I would never see these photos with my own eyes. I sent my rolls of film by Special Delivery to a processing lab in Manchester, whom I have used several times over the years. They operate via a paper order-form for postal orders which I dutifully filled out, and regretfully did not make a copy of. The photos were dispatched by the lab on April 23rd. I waited keenly for their arrival. I waited more, then called, then waited, spoke to postmen, knocked on neighbours doors and waited still. There was a bone of contention, as the lab (conveniently) do not keep a copy of the order form, and I have no way of proving that I asked for a signed-for delivery service. Big lesson learned: make  a copy of any orders you make, ever! As you may imagine, I had gone through all the emotions, and was resigned to thinking that they were in a place of no recovery.

Then, just two weeks ago, in mid-August, nearly four months after their original dispatch, the postman knocked the door, and lo and behold, the pictures had winged their way back to Manchester, and subsequently to me.

A friend later sent me a text “Some day my Prints will come”.

I will be ready! 🤴🏽