What is it like to shoot without expectation? To craft images independent of the weather, tide, time and day?
Conceived one dark rainy November 2014 morning this project developed as I searched for images which had no other purpose than to portray the essence of a landscape in the prevailing conditions of that day. After decades of seeking the ‘right’ light I determined to work with whatever the English climate decided to gift to me.
Waiting for the right light is the usual routine for landscape and nature photography. What would happen if I ventured out on my chosen day regardless of dark, rain, fog and storm? Or even relentless blue skies? For me this project was all about finding the ‘play’ in my art that ruled my life as a teen, rather than the control and planning that has necessarily dominated my thirty years as a professional editorial photographer.
My only brief was to do the best I could with what I was presented with. As I dug into #outland I found very much that it was my own mood that dictated the outcome, the weather and landscape merely reflecting that back to me. Layers of texture rose to the fore as I traversed the difficult peninsula of the Wirral where industry, oil and chemicals ruled. Those same layers of land and light continued with me right through the project.
Freed from the constraints of expectation and even an end result I conceived the shots in monochrome and colour, capturing the spirit of the scene in whatever medium spoke with the most authenticity.
What I’m left with is a document of the northwest coastline which embodies its truth, without any veils or masks, other than the ones I was wearing or overlaid on the land of course! The photographs illustrate how the land and the weather are one. The relationship, that I once thought was just the two of us, the land and me, really was a weave of various embodiments including myself, the land, the weather, ebb or flow, my own inner place and of course you, the viewer.
A small selection of the images were exhibited in October 2015 at the Creative with Nature gallery in Todmorden and the project was completed early in March 2016
“I stumbled upon this chap as he stared forlornly out to sea at the passing ferries. Rain splattered on the grey sands, a sunless sky dulled the atmosphere as he stood alone. Blues mixed with coppers, salt with fresh water. Hunkering down from the wind I took my time and worked with this moment for a couple of hours.”
The full collection of selected images taken during my outland project. A day per week was devoted to taking images of the England's north west coast from the Welsh border to the Scottish border. I did the work regardless of the weather or light conditions, continuing in a linear fashion northwards along the coast.
Out of many thousand I offer you this set. It's still large and unwieldy, but so is the coastline. There's a mix of moods and styles, all the better to capture the connection with each fragment of the trail.
The gallery begins at the border between North Wales and England and ends where North West England meets Scotland at Gretna.