Manchester has been experiencing a much appreciated (at least by me) heatwave over the last week or so – possibly longer, I lose track of the days sometimes! The air has had that muggy, electric feel in it as the sun goes down, so it was no surprise to have the humidity punctuated by the odd thunderstorm; giving us all a brief relief from the heat. On the night that the first storm broke I quickly threw on my shoes and ran downstairs to experience the cooling pound of the rain on my face for myself. Still, even with the fan on 24/7 at home it’s pretty sticky, so I’ve not been venturing too far from the floor on my apartment until after dark. In these warmer months the night sky is much brighter. Even on my usual 3am jaunts out to the park and neighbouring streets, I really don’t have to strain my eyes much to see where I’m going like I would normally do in previous times. In an odd way, it’s made me feel more exposed and vulnerable and I’ve had to abandon shoots in many locations due to this feeling. The park is one of the few settings I can rely on to spend a good amount of time wandering without any visitors. In fact, the night before last is the first occasion on which I’ve seen someone else there; when a bike light suddenly silently blinked red through the trees on a path parallel to the one which I’d been setting up my camera in. It made me freeze for a few seconds whilst I watched which direction it was going in and I felt relieved when I realised it wasn’t headed my way.
One thing I’ve noticed about my trips out at night is the huge adrenalin rush that I experience, something which always subsides rapidly when I get back in the house. I felt so exhausted when I began climbing the stairs up to my apartment on Friday night, which would be understandable given the hour that I was out and how long I’d been up that day. Moreover, the walking around for a good ninety minutes in the dark with a tripod and cameras on my back. It’s almost like the dip after a sugar rush, where you go from being deliriously manic to feeling sluggish and just ugh! Despite my energy crashing, I had around 15 shots left on the roll of film so I lay down on the cool floor whilst I considered what to use them up on.
I bought some colourful ‘props’ during the week for a shoot I have approaching next weekend, so it seemed like a good time to test those out, then perhaps I can at least appear to know what I’m doing. Colour is definitely something I have always been drawn to and something which I try hard to use to its fullest effect in my work. One of my earliest memories is being told off by a nursery school teacher for painting my hands with the poster paints at school when we were meant to be painting pictures. Even though I hated how it cracked as it dried on my hands, it was something that I did repeatedly because I just loved how it looked rather than how it felt. After being scolded by the teacher a few times, I then attempted to use the paint on my hands to make my pictures, so that she’d see I was doing something productive with it rather than simply wasting paint. I sometimes think of colour in photography in that way; painting my images with colour using my hands both literally and figuratively.
Despite the cramping heat in my apartment and the lack of real space, I always think the only real thing that limits your eye as an artist is a lack of looking. I am always constantly inspired by my surroundings and think of images as a documentation of where I was at, literally, when they were taken – both mentally and physically. I keep diaries and sketchbooks on my work that are full of ideas and the intentions behind those ideas. Some ideas are simply, hey this looks cool or pretty. The constant challenge for me is trying to express that to the viewer of the image without explaining it. Most of the time though, the viewer I’m trying to converse with is myself.
There is an article on the Lomography website this week about my experiments with the Lomo Instant Wide – https://www.lomography.com/magazine/321352-elegia-self-portraits-and-experiments-with-the-lomo-instant-wide