Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Anything can be extraordinary

click photo to enlarge
"In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary". These words, by the contemporary American director and writer, Aaron Rose, neatly sum up a feeling I have about the importance of looking carefully, and repeatedly, at everyday things in your everyday environment. Photographers often produce their best work by photographing things and places that they know well - and the light, and the time of day and year, are very significant in achieving this.

However, many people seem to assume that they must search for novel locations and objects. Look at people's photograph collections and notice how the majority of images are taken when on holiday. Observe too how many try to spend every holiday in a different location so that they can find something that is extraordinary to photograph. Instead, perhaps, we should be trying to find the extraordinary photograph of the ordinary place.

I have walked and cycled along this seawall at Rossall, Lancashire, many times. Then one day last summer I determined to photograph it. The stark concrete wall is not, at first glance, the most photogenic structure. However, I set myself the task, and came up with half a dozen shots that I am pleased with. This is the best of the crop, taken from the beach, with the sun at an angle that throws the massing into bold relief. It is a shot that wouldn't work without the shadows. They help to explain the construction, and highlight the sinuous line of the curved wall that throws back the waves. Converting it to black and white has emphasised the extraordinary qualities of this ordinary seawall.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen