Photography and ‘the last seven pictures’

RHACC UAL Level 3 Photography Module 6.

Assignment week one.

Ten words that define what photography means to me: Beauty, Place, Street, Nature, Lens, Seeing, Truth, Light, Joy, Capture.

Freewrite on one of those words: Capture.

Capture sums it up. Capture a moment, a place, a person – a soul – so a precious moment of beauty or meaning does not pass without notice. Stop the passage of time through the capture, make time stand still. Like light. Stop the light from passing, create time to focus, explore the beauty, depth, meaning of the moment the light reveals or clarifies. Capture the truth as it happens so the moment is not lost forever.

Capture, yet not hold prisoner, because none can do that with light, with a moment. If anything the opposite, capture in order to liberate. Set free the moment, the meaning, the image so that all can see and enjoy that which the photographer saw.

‘Think more and shoot less,’ is the advice of Tina Barney in ‘Slow Down’. This is good advice, although sometimes thinking too much can overcomplicate and the moment passes, the picture is lost, before the button is pressed.

What to do with the image once caught? Delete to set it free? Or process, publish or print in order to liberate? When is this just taking an image hostage, imposing my own will on it, my own view of the transient, ephemeral moment of the shot?

Capture the picture, then try to understand he meaning. Although perhaps the meaning can never be caught.

(Transcribed from exercise in class.)

The Last Seven Pictures

Photographer Michael Christopher Brown wrote about finding a voice by taking a ‘more honest path’ with photography and suggested an exercise, where the photographer takes one shot a day for a week. ‘The idea is to be focused enough to only photography what is necessary.’ What are the seven pictures that define not only the week, but yourself, he asked. ‘What if you were to die next week and these were to be the last seven pictures of your life? This exercise can be an important analysis of the self in relation to life and photography.’

If you have time to read on through the captions, you will see that I have taken seriously this opportunity to do a little self-analysis through photography.

‘Child pose’.

‘Child pose’, as used in yoga and pilates, illustrating continuing (and not always successful) attempts to live a life of humility as well as post-spin workout body relaxation. Surrounded by favourite flowers, lemon-scented salvia, creating vision, sense and scents of beauty in natural environment. Child pose reflects the combination of spiritual, mental and physical principles by which I am trying to live life in this ‘third’ age. (Also my first ever attempt at using remote Snapbridge shutter on Nikon Z6II. Given that we were only allowed one shot, I was quite pleased with how it worked.)

Selfie on iPhone.

Selfie on iPhone at Old Deer Parkrun, wearing my new 25-parkruns tee. I like sometimes to volunteer at this event. Did a new pb of 28:08. My personal worst earlier this year, not long after I started, was around 48 minutes. I reckon each Ib I lose, I knock a minute off my Parkrun time. Will be interesting to see how fast I can get as I get closer to my target weight of just under nine stone. Around five pounds to go so we will see. Would like to be able to run under 25 mins at Parkrun.

Meditating after Mass.

Meditating after Mass at the shrine of St Winefride at my church in Kew. A fairly recent convert to Catholicism, a religious faith is an important part of my spiritual journey. Next to this lovely garden though just out of the picture is the parish hall, where I attend a weekly 12-step meeting, another vital part of maintaining ongoing spiritual, mental and physical health. I have been continuously sober since 16 May 1985, one day at a time.

My husband Alan Franks.

My husband Alan Franks, a writer and musician. I love that I am married to a man who plays the guitar and sings and writes so beautifully. We are working together on a project, The Place of the Poem. Read more about that here. Coincidentally, he has revealed a little about our relationship and our priorities as a couple in this article in The Times today. We met at the paper soon after I joined, in 1987. He retired a few years ago and soon afterwards I was happy to be made redundant and move first to Christian Today and then to The Tablet where I am assistant editor, home and digital.

WFH

Work, like home, is very important to me and although I am 62 I cannot at present envision a time when I will want to stop. I view work as service and love being part of a creative enterprise. Magazine journalism was always my first love and was what I studied in my HND and NCTJ certificate at the London College of Printing back in the early 1980s. Although digital has brought much to the world I will never stop loving the feel, look and read of print. The main iteration of The Tablet, the latest issue of which is in this photograph on the left of my laptop, is still print and we are all righty proud of the quality of the content and production of this Catholic international weekly, first published in 1840 and the second oldest surviving magazine in Britain. On top of The Tablet in the photo is the RPS landscape journal, which represents rather more aspiration than reality on my part at the moment. The little white circlet the right of the laptop is a newly-acquired patch from the 1987 Tandy London Marathon that I ran in 3:38 in 1987 and that I am suddenly rather proud of again, having returned to running, at Parkrun but also at Ranelagh, as part of my new fitness drive. Also on the bureau, which we inherited from Alan’s late mother Vera, is a limited edition Pikachu from the recent World Championships in London, where I competed in the ‘last chance qualifier’. Even though I am coming to it rather late in life, to be honest I think I will always be better at swim-bike-run than I ever will be at pvp in PokemonGo but I will probably never stop shiny hunting. Next to the Pika is a hand-crafted model Venusaur in a transparent pokeball, a Christmas present from our son. The lazy fat Snorlax on the apprentice chaise longue represents the me that loves sugary and fatty food so much, I pretty near ate myself to death by severe acute gallstone pancreatitis just before the pandemic and ended up in West Middlesex Hospital for a month. I had plenty of time in there and convalescing afterwards to reflect on the consequences of excess. Hence the new fitness drive and the slightly manic swimming, cycling, running. It does seem to be working though! On top of the chaise long is the ‘love’ cushion. When I look back at my life, as the cost-of-living crisis hits, I do wonder occasionally if maybe getting rich shouldn’t have been more of a priority. In spite of all the energy expended, the, ambitions, hopes and dreams, the main thing I always wanted, and searched for, sometimes almost desperately and sometimes totally hopelessly, was love. There is lots more in this photograph. The painting on the right, for example, is the River Blythe, that flows near the rectory I grew up in near Uttoxeter, Staffs. The bureau contains my new blue post-Brexit passport although frankly I preferred the old red one. Basically, almost everything in this pic represents something significant in my life. I’ll stop there!

Son.

Am extremely proud to be the mother of a boy who cooks.

Published by Placement

Journalist, photographer, mum.

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WILD WORDS

By Kelly Hargie

Alan Franks

Writer, Musician

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