The Poetry of Light – fine art photography

Documentary fine art photography for me is being in the moment that a narrative unfolds.  Sometimes I lie, or cheat to make art, as in this photo of a lamb on a small rock Island, just to add a little mystery to an otherwise ‘post-card’ scene.  But mostly this is done in post-production.

During image origination, I have no control over the actors or the scene: the action unfolds; all I do is decide when to capture a precise moment in time.  Sometimes, I don’t even have time to consciously frame the shot, I just have seconds to take it.  The only control I have is over the lighting, if I use flash, or the ISO rating, lens, aperture, and shutter speed.

For example, the World Record Class II Offshore attempt on Lake Windermere (see ‘Art Available’ page), was only one shot as the power boat flew past less than 50m away at over 100 mph.  I was in a small water-ski-boat which was already pitching and rolling after the wash from the first run by (the record had to be ratified by a photo of the second and last run).  And then, as I was about to take the shot, it had to reverse quickly, as the powerboat had changed its course from the first run, and it was now heading on a collision course with us.

Another example is when I just hold my camera above my head and fire away (see the ‘Portfolio Page’ images of the Met ‘riot’ Police, or during a Pentecostal ‘healing’ meeting), hoping to get a shot that’s useable.  In that situation I have the aperture priority mode with it ‘stopped’ down as far as possible, the focus locked, and in motordrive to shoot bursts of up to six frames per second.  

Above all, whenever I get my camera out, I have to consider the safety of all those around me (people get distracted when they see a photographer).  And of course myself: I avoided getting crushed by protesters surging towards the line of Met ‘riot’ Police by diving into a doorway.  After I made sure that I had ‘the shot.’  Of course!