Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Mapping and Photography

I probably made my first connection between mapping and photography around the age of five. In this case, the mapping was not for my benefit but for my distraught parents. Faced with a rising five year old who could not be kept in the house, or indeed the neighbourhood, my father, a professional photographer, showed me how to use a simple camera and instructed me to take photographs during my travels. I realise now that this was his way of mapping my illicit journeys. All went well until he developed images of me several miles from home, happily making my way through the North Tyne canal with the local narrow boat community.

I've never looked back, almost literally, and have been walking the landscape ever since; I'm sixty-three now. I loathe being indoors and, contrary to what was said this morning, do all my daydreaming, reflection and contemplation in fields, moors and woodland, where I am most at home. I relate very little to other people, but often feel an instinctive, almost supernatural, connection with place and landscape. It's interesting to me that this morning's lecture brought up the idea of 'soul'; I think that this is what I try to find in my landscape images.

Given the restrictions of lens coverage, landscape photographers must always choose which part of a 360 degree vista to photograph. I do this by internalizing a mental map of the whole view and it is to this map that I turn for my choosing. My images are thus as much part of an internal landscape as an external one.

I am hoping that my Final Major Project later this year will be a book about 'Real Back Gardens' and will concern how people value and use the external spaces around their property. The back garden, rather than the front, is of interest to me because it has no public persona ; a bit like seeing someone before they put their makeup on.

It occurs to me that interesting research for this book might include mapping the ways in which people in a small neighbourhood use this space - drying washing, parking, refuse bins, wildlife, planting etc. It's a line of thought I'll be pursuing as a result of this morning's lecture amd seminar.  Liz Rowett.

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