........is 'which is your favourite picture?'
Umm, this usually stumps me as it is not a straightforward answer. At least not for me. To start with photographers are their own worse critic and then of course what would a favourite be? Most sales? Best colour? Composition? Meaning? Technically best? Done well in a competition?
You see I said it was not easy but I will try and answer although I doubt I will come up with a definitive answer. Another factor I have to be aware of is that in the 10 years or so I have taken my photography seriously there has been a steady progression in terms of ability and technical know-how; what might have taken my fancy a few years ago may now seem technically inept.
In October 2014 I spent a few hours outside the Tower of London observing and taking pictures of the growing enormous artwork that was the ceramic poppies. A wonderfully conceived and poignant piece of art. I have great admiration for the artists who conceived and executed the piece. I was aware of the growing interest in the poppies and had seen many pictures of a wide view of the artwork, what I had not seen were any detailed pictures, a tighter view so I set about trying to see the poppies differently. By careful use of my 70-300mm lens I was able to isolate parts and create a series of images which to date have become my best sellers. To see the pleasure these images still give people is most rewarding especially as it is unlikely ever to be repeated. I was particularly pleased with the sharpness of the images and the almost duo-tone aspect of the colour, red and the stone-grey walls. The deepness of the red makes it for me. Each one of the series I print has to be a favourite........
Now, best colour. So many but I think I would like to combine this with....'I love it when a plan comes together'.
Afon Mawddach near Barmouth in Gwynedd had been on my radar for sometime so in 2010 I set off for a few days in and around Snowdonia. Given that I needed to be at a high point above the Mawddach it was vital that I scouted my location prior to the shoot, this I did and was quite comfortable with where I needed to be and at what time. A dark stumble up the hillside the following morning proved to be very worthwhile, it was one of those mornings when everything fell in to place; right time, right place. If I could have changed one thing it would have been for the tide to have been just a little lower so as to reveal more of the sinuous channels hidden by the tide. The predawn light was to die for, I really did think that a plan had come together!
My next favourite could quite easily replace the previous but as it resulted from serendipity it would be insincere of me to claim all the credit. I wanted to capture the Sussex Weald before and during sunrise and had decided on a high point called Firle Beacon. I set off from home before 0300 knowing that clear conditions were forecast, what was not forecast was mist which was forming and continued to form as I climbed up the Beacon at an ever increasing pace not wanting to miss this heaven-sent opportunity. Standing there looking across a vast expanse of low-lying mist with sky & cloud beginning to go that soft sort of pink was one of those moments to behold and if I ever question myself as to why I get out of bed at ridiculous times then the answer stretched out before me. Why do I think this is my favourite composition? By using a long lens has enabled me to compress the perspective and create what almost appears as steps or layers from the foreground to the far distance. I took a number of pictures, before, during and after the sun had risen. My absolute favourite from that morning after some deliberation is this one. Shooting directly in to the sun has resulted in a halo which in many instances can be quite distracting and potentially ruin the image but on this occasion I felt and still do that it does add something to the overall composition. Oddly enough I have only ever printed this image once, time perhaps for another.
I make no apologies for this next one.
Cheating I have to combine meaning & done well in a competition and to those who have followed my blog it will come as no surprise to know that 'Winter' by far has the most meaning in a number of aspects, not least appearing as the frontispiece in 2014 Landscape Photographer of the Year book but also for receiving the Head Judges Award, none other than Charlie Waite. His work is without parallel and has helped inspire me and my work. Not only that but 'Winter' was captured in Macclesfield Forest close to my home and round the corner from Langley, birthplace of my mother who married Dad at Langley Chapel where my sister and myself were christened. And then the photograph itself: snow still falling, me walking through a fire break towards Shutlingsloe suddenly coming across these bright grasses sticking out of the ever deepening snow, breaking the gloom of the early morning scene. Immediately I could see the composition and I set about capturing the detail. The picture has sold well before LPOTY but especially well since the competition. Only yesterday I got an e-mail from a kind customer saying just how gorgeous the print was and that they loved it. Very kind and greatly appreciated. I will leave you to judge.....
I could open a whole can of worms with my final choice, 'technically best'. It is my own judgement and others may not agree. I had wanted for some time to capture trees in mist and what better time than when the autumn colours are at their very best. A few hours in Epping Forest quite recently were just the ticket. The diffused nature of light in fog and mist was an essential part of this next picture. To me the light seems to soften yet enhance the delicate autumn colours, I could not have asked for better conditions. Autumn Splendour this one is called and a limited edition. I just love it; the composition, the colour, the mood I even enjoy the way the inverted 'Y' branch hangs down pointing the eye in to the whole picture. I have seen it in print and it is with the framers right now, it does look superb but of course I would say that wouldn't I?
I have spent some time considering what to include and what not to include and it is quite possible that if I were to cogitate for any longer I may come up with some different images but for now I think I have gone some way to answer the original question until of course the next time I am asked!!
It only remains for me to remind you that I end the year with two more Arts Markets at Spitalfields, 3rd to 6th and 17th to 20th December. Orders for Christmas really need to be with me no later than 6th, earlier if possible.
My plans for 2016 are some way from decided. Continuing at The Arts Market depends very much on how well I do in December, not only is it hard work for Elaine and I but requires a considerable outlay. As regards where I go to do some more photography I am not yet convinced, Northumberland is under consideration as is another trip to North Wales and or The Lakes. Perhaps during some peace and quiet over Christmas and the New Year plans will crystallise and I will have a better idea of what 2016 will hold in store.
To those who have taken the time to read my blogs I am very grateful, I just hope you find them of interest and hope you will pass on a link to anyone you think may enjoy my ramblings.
Thank you & best wishes.