I’ve been working on ‘The Guisers’ Project for a little bit recently. A guiser is a child who at Halloween goes around the neighbours’ doors and in return for ‘a turn’ (a party-piece involving a song, joke, dance, mini-play etc) gets some sweets and fruit usually. Many people don’t realise this still happens in Scotland and think that it is all ‘trick or treat’ which is from the U.S.
Guising predates the American version and this tradition was taken to the U.S. by immigrants from various Celtic origins, and along with other cultural influences became the American ‘trick or treat’.
A guiser is “in disguise” and in this project the children and young teens present themselves in their costumes and share their thoughts on why they chose to dress up as they did.
The minds of children are fascinating as they grow and develop their sense of self and this project allows the children to also have a voice.
The images were all taken at Halloween, just before the participants left to go out guising. More is planned for 2016 so check back for an expanded project soon.
See ‘The Guisers’
My latest post for Documenting Britain is on their website. It is a portrait of a young activist in Glasgow with her story.
If you can, please take the time to look at some of the interesting works being shown over on the Documenting Britain website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter for general photo and arts news as well as updates from the people involved in the group.
My next post with a portrait and story is nearly completed and will be available soon.
I was kindly asked to contribute to Documenting Britain which is ” a creative response to the British Isles by a group of artists, photographers, filmmakers, composers and poets.” Founded by Alistair Cook the range of work on show is exciting and diverse. For my own part, I deliver a post every month on an ongoing project.
Some people use the project work as a visual diary, some to show larger bodies of work. I am doing it to produce new work with a portrait and a story every month featuring a local person.
I like this marriage between image and text, the ability to look at a photograph and return to it as the text reveals the narrative of who they are and what they do. The story of them, or rather, part of them. Anyway, that is what I plan to do.
My first story can be seen over on the Documenting Britain website now and number two is due to be published very soon.
After much research and some shooting…. Project M is in the works.
For years, some projects sit in your head. Rolling and rumbling along, little bits getting added, taken out, decisions made and undone again. They sit there and wait, these projects. Updates soon.
I always like to try something new and a couple of weeks ago took Alastair Cook up on his suggestion of contributing something, as a visiting artist, to an ongoing project of his in Greenock.
I had gone to meet Alastair for the first time a couple of weeks earlier during which time he taught me some wet plate collodian and we had a chit chat. Having no time that day, I returned the following week to see what Greenock would offer up to me as way of a story in a short time frame. This is not my usual way of working where meeting and discussions (mostly) take place in advance with people or places I will photograph.
So it was fun. And a challenge.
I will write a longer piece in the future of the afternoon and what happened. Who I met, who I photographed and the stories I was told.
In the meantime, a short post to thank those I met for their time and generosity. I will be back so might bump into you again. If you want to see your photo that I took that day, just drop me a line on the contact form. Cheers!
Originally, I never included this photo as part of my Tiree Schoolchildren Project but I kept coming back to this boy. I really wanted to get a decent photo of him and it annoyed me that I didn’t quite get what I was trying for (whatever that is…)
As we wandered round the windswept landscape on Tiree, we came across this stookie (plaster cast for those non-Scots out there). The possibilities of where this came from saw me invent many fantastical scenarios in my head. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get my ideal photo…..
Still, I quite like this boy with the “stookie in the landscape” and he is now part of the series, adding something to the experience and feel of Tiree.
I sometimes think it is interesting to read how photographers went about photographing someone. I like looking at other’s contact sheets because you see a story unfold of the relationship between photographer and subject. You see at what point the photo happened and what preceded and what came after. In the digital era, some photographers might check their shots one after another, but when shooting with film you would see the roll out to make sure the shot was there. That’s kind of the beauty of it all. The excitement of developing a film: first relief that the exposure is good, followed by getting a contact which shows that one (hopefully) cracking shot. Not always, sometimes there’s a few good ones, sometimes it’s just been missed, but if it’s there, the best stands out.
I’m talking about portraiture here but I’m sure the same stands true for constructed imagery such as Phillippe Halsman’s photograph of Salvador Dali where certainly luck played a part in achieving the final composition. It is one thing to have a photograph in your head and yet another to realise it. Sometimes intervention is sweet and the subject does something unexpected and the image is made.This is what happened to me on Tiree.
So, to the story behind this little girl’s pose. We were a group a students spending a week on the island of Tiree with the idea of exhibiting the work that we managed to do during our stay. Being a people photographer, I approached the local school who helped out enormously in co-ordinating parental approval for the subjects that I chose. One child from every year was photographed . I also left film with them to photograph the island, which the art teacher facilitated and kindly sent to me for the exhibition. I liked the idea of involving the children in this project and some of their photos were crackers.
This little girl went for a walk with me in the beautiful sand dunes beside the school. I found a location and asked her to stand in a certain place. I like to see how people react to the camera and as I started to photograph she struck a pose. Pulling out her jogging trouser pockets into a feminised curtsy stance.
When the film the kids shot came down from the school, this little girl had photographed a triangle of sheep which reflected beautifully the triangular sand of the dune.