Each of these portraits was taken in a place of significance to the subject and are linked together by the nature of the individuals; all three are grandparents but they remain highly active filling their time with a multitude of different pastimes including some lifelong hobbies about which they are passionate.
Mike restores vintage Landrovers, painstakingly renovating the mechanics and bodywork until they are ready to be shipped to Namibia as transport on his various African adventures or to carry his canoe. This photograph was taken where he starts his regular excursions on the Fleet Canal. The vehicle, the canoe and the location combine to describe a vital aspect of Mike’s identity.
Dick collects motorbikes, he currently has four in his cramped workshop and “several” others stored elsewhere. Of course like all motorbike owners of his generation it doesn’t end there; most of his bikes are in various states of repair; engines stripped ready for pistons to be replaced, fairings spread across his benches awaiting respraying, or just in pieces because vintage motorcycle owners just love taking them apart and putting them back together. The bikes are important but the workshop is at the heart of Dick’s life, it goes beyond the modern fad of a man cave, this is a place where his engineering skills are put to the test.
Sharon is a country girl, over the last thirty years she has grown fruit and vegetables, kept chickens, raised pigs and, when living in a warmer climate, lovingly tended a few hundred olive trees to produce olive oil. There have always been dogs to walk and land to tend. The fresh home produced food is important but the real motivation is to keep busy and to be fulfilled by hard physical work.
Photography and Post Production
I am taking the opportunity of exploring black and white photography during this module. For many decades I have concentrated nearly exclusively on colour so have never developed a monochrome “style”. It is noticeable that my black and white prints are becoming progressively darker the more that I explore this medium and this, perhaps, deserves some explanation.
I think that this is partly happening because of the black and white photographers I find the most interesting; Josef Koudelka, Don McCullin, Bill Brandt who all explore deep blacks to varying degrees. Their motivations for this are probably quite different although McCullin and Koudelka might share the same dark view of the world and my current interest in monochrome doesn’t extend to landscape.
Since looking at Bill Brandt (here), the master of blacks, I have experimented with using pure blacks as compositional blocks, figure 2 above is probably the image where this works best, and have explored brightening skin tones and darkening the background in the type of contextual portraits that are shown here. This worked least well in figure 3 because the white dogs distract from the main subject but has been more successful in figures 1 and 2.