I completed The Square Mile as the first assignment in my OCA studies for Expressing Your Vision. At the time I chose to go back to my roots, rediscovering the square mile in which I grew up and attended school.
Reflecting on this now I can see how I was really exploring my sense of identity: the impact that the landscape of my childhood had on making me the person I am. There was also an inevitable dose of nostalgia mixed in with gratitude (the area has gone downhill in the years I’ve been away due to the pits closing and taking many jobs with them). It was a reminder of how many things seemed important at the time but no longer are – for example my old fishing spot. On the other hand it was also interesting to note that I was walking the same area as I did with my first ever camera some 33 years ago…nothing really changes!
This led me to reflect on the photographic journey I’ve been on ever since. How have I changed? Indeed, have I changed, or just learned to winkle authentic things out of myself that were always buried in there somewhere?
In the beginning art photography was a shock. Gawain Barnard did a similar exercise to The Square Mile, capturing the social impact of change upon the youth in the Welsh town he grew up in. I couldn’t see past the poorly exposed and badly framed parts of trees:
Looking back now I can see that I wasn’t seeking to express any meaning in my photography. I was still in the mindset of pursuing technical perfection over artistic expression. I feel much braver now, seeking to reveal more about my thoughts and feelings, forming opinions on the work of others and being prepared to share and discuss.
Have I changed? I don’t think so. But Im slowly learning the language of photography and using it to describe myself, rather than merely pursue the theme of this month’s camera club competition. And in doing this I’m noticing a lot more about what really makes me tick.