I will be giving a talk at Edinburgh Napier University on Tuesday the 24th January 2017 at 5:30pm at Merchiston Campus. I graduated myself from Napier in 1994 and am thrilled to be going back as part of their Creative Lecture Series.
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.