The road trip... Why?
22/03/16 06:47 Filed in: Studio Practice
As we were all sat together looking at our computer screens last week, waiting for the TYB "show and tell" to start, I began wondering why I was so fascinated by the idea of the journey, by the road trip. I'm not sure why I specifically thought about it then, but I did. I also came up with a simple answer: I'm something of an "outsider".
It's a simple and somewhat sweeping generalisation. I'm not really an outsider, I've lived where I do for 10 years or so (but will be hopefully moving soon), and before that I spent the previous 30-odd years living in the bright lights of Blackpool. Clearly I'm not an outsider there. Well, actually, in many ways I am... and it's reflected in my outlook on life, on the way I take photographs and what I take them of.
I prefer to sit on the periphery, looking in, rather than on the inside looking out. I suppose it's this trait that draws me to photography and the road trip - you can move from place to place, taking the images as you go without having to travel into the centre of it all. And now, with GSV, you don't even have to travel at all!
Would I like the life of a traveller, with nowhere to hang my hat? No, not at all. I like my home comforts, and I suppose that's one reason why my wife and I bought a holiday home a few years ago (there are other reasons too, practical ones...). We get to travel whilst enjoying the familiarity of home. We come back here, so whilst my current project (Le Loup...) is labelled a road trip/travelling experience, in some ways it's not. Outside the walls of my little French cottage I am that outsider though, even amongst the neighbours who have accepted me. I'm far from fluent in French, although we do communicate well enough for the most part. And yes, I'm part of the Brittany problem of too many holiday homes (although with perhaps an intention to settle here once my working days are spent).
When looking at what I photograph though, and perhaps more importantly how I photograph it, I think this is with non-native eyes. I look for things that are somewhat "quotidien", banal and everyday things that get overlooked because of this. I'm not alone in working with such subject matter, it really is a mainstay of contemporary photography - normal things recorded in an unsentimental way. I'm not necessarily attached to anything that I photograph, and that sometimes makes it difficult for some viewers... They don't always understand that the odd things I focus on aren't always meant to "mean" something, it's just that I'm highlighting things that I see so that they might see them too. It's easier to do this when you're just passing by, seeing new things with new eyes.