It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in the sleepy Devon seaside village of Salcombe. The light is bright and the shadows are deep, and the streets are thronged with locals and tourists making the most of the bank holiday weekend. Families hustle from one ice cream shop to the next with relaxed parents trying to keep track of their highly excited children as they weave through the narrow streets. The pubs are full of interesting characters and the harbour is awash with boats and their nautically-styled owners.
I am sat on the sun terrace of one of the seafront drinking establishments in the village, a pint of beer in my hand and my wife sat next to me enjoying the sun. For me, it’s the ideal conditions to be out shooting and of course, I have my camera with me. However, on this day I am happy to let the world slip by along with all the photo opportunities that I would normally be out there hunting down. Don’t get me wrong, I have grabbed a few images during our pub-to-pub exploration of the village, but I’m in no ways committing the focus of my day to shooting on the streets of Salcombe.
No, this trip is a break for both of us. A break from all we have going on at home and also a chance to take stock of all that has happened lately. It’s also a chance to reflect on my work over the past few months of my year in black and white as I approach the halfway point of this project. I have been really satisfied with the work I have produced so far in 2018 and I feel it has evolved as I have moved through the months. I have learned so much in this year, but I know I have so much more to learn.
A talk I went to by a well-known photographer at the end of April left me thinking about two changes that I needed to make in the way I go about my documentary and street work.
First, slow down. Slow down everything. The pace you walk at, your movements with the camera, your observations of the world you are in. Take the time to understand with the eye before trying to capture it with your camera. To consider a scene, understand its meaning, and then develop a composition that tells the right story, takes patience. Something I don’t always have.
Second, shoot more, A LOT more. As I look back at last months number of shots I should feel happy with the 8 events and outings I have shot in May. However, I know it’s not enough. I need to do more. This passion demands more time to be committed to it, along with the consumption of a greater variety of subject matter. I already have 8 quite varied shoots lined up in June so I’m heading in the right direction. I just need to maintain this pace, but I know I can do this because it’s easy when you are doing something that you love.
Taking some time out from photography to think about your work, and what you need to do to keep it moving forward, is very important. Getting out and shooting is obviously critical to anyone’s development in this field. Just as important however is taking the time to properly review your work, curate it, and plan your next move. For me, that’s going to involve learning from those people who have already walked this path, while also taking criticism of my work, and being critical of it. This way I will hopefully stay on the right path, and continue to put out work that pleases me, and hopefully others too.