I dunno. You think you’ve got all four corners of the suitcase battened down then you look over your shoulder and you find that one of them has popped up again.
By using The Little Game from The Online Photographer website I managed earlier this year (see posts 1-3 in this series in April- June below) to refocus my general photopractice and to give it a bit more definition. I decided then that I would stick to a core of four categories: Spirit, Growth and Form, Cityscape, and People in Situ. In the past couple of weeks, having the summer’s photos to catalogue, I decided that it would be logical to use those four categories to keep things in order. So thanks to the wonders of software I can keep them both in chronological sets but also in subject categories.
I renamed Cityscape ‘Les Alentours’ – which is simply the French for ‘surroundings’ or ‘environs’ but I thought it leant an air of Gallic sophistication to the humdrum realities of my photolife. Seized by this notion I then changed People In Situ and gave it the new title of Personae. ‘Persona’ was originally a mask worn by Greek and Roman actors and came to mean the part or character played in the world so I thought the new title gave a certain, well, gravitas. ‘Spirit’ I changed to Contemplative to widen it, and Growth and Form I left as it was.
Then I took each of these four and subdivided them, rigidly policing my tendency to lapse into the abstract. So, for Les Alentours, I have Bridges, Buildings, Underpasses, Walls and so on. For Personae I have Framed, In Space, Talking, Thinking and suchlike. Ditto for the others. From now on every photo I keep will fall into its category and subcategory in this system! It may well feature more than once but this is the basic grid.
You might think, as I did, that this would be just a technical matter, a question of attribution. But in fact, a small miracle occurred as soon as I had done this. Look at the existential crisis I had fallen into when I wrote one of my first blog posts in February 2017 (below entitled My Jigsaw Puzzle Of Photographs). I was clearly all over the place. Yet suddenly this has sorted itself into clear patterns. For example, I never knew that I took so many photos of urban walls. But look!
I love these Wallscapes. They seem so personalised – either in their construction or in the layers that have been added over time. They run all the way from a classical kind of formality to sheer unruliness. Who did all this (and, in particular, who put that letterbox so high up on the one second from the top? Was it a humane attempt to save the postie’s fingers from the alsatian’s teeth?)
Who did all this? The ghosts of the city, of course!
I feel really buoyed up by this whole process. You start off with A Little Game and you end up with A Big Discovery.