For obvious quarantino reasons, this has been an excellent opportunity to take a look back on previous work and revisit some old ideas. It’s been super fun finding photos that I didn’t think much of at the time. The biggest realisation during this outbreak is the importance of documenting daily life, events, family things and anything in between.
Photographing the Now
The 2020 episodes of The Negative Positives Podcast have been touching regularly on the importance of photographing family and documenting day to day life. Just digging through crates of photos with my wife and her in laws solidifies this further. Even though I don’t know half the people in these prints, it’s got me transfixed on the story and all the little bits of context and emotion in the photos.
Looking back through my virtual boxes of photos, it’s been really rewarding to come across pictures from nearly 10 years ago and feeling the importance of these. Even some photos taken last year as snapshots have started to impart more importance now. I think now that I wish I had taken more pictures in my later teens of the silly coffee shop trips we’d do or how we would duck in and out of charity shops, vintage shops and record stores. Norwich was a fun place to be at 18 years old.
Looking Back at Old Work
I do think that the perspective gained on looking back at older work is hugely beneficial and although you can feel a bit beat up (think about photos you used to think were your best work) but it’s a learning in personal humility. There are some shots I would wax lyrical about that frankly I’m embarrassed that I even showed them back then! Looking back at some projects we did for university and the weird things I did (signing prints anybody?!?!) definitely bring some cringe. But it’s for the best. You’ve gotta try and laugh!
Silly little moments that feel important to me now are looking back at pictures of full and empty coffee cups in a variety of coffee spots around London, weird bits of street planning and pictures I would take of drinking fountains. I’m not sure what drew me to these things but something just felt right in the moment. I’m glad I can now see some patterns of consistency, and coming back to old shots with fresh new eyes it’s easier to see some of my own style and preferences in composition and subject matter.
On the plus side you can find some older gems that have aged well and they may feel more “you” than they did at the time. It may be time to get that zine together and also a good time to check if you an edit an existing sequence to look even better. Maybe after this remix, you’ve got some really powerful work on hand. Letting photos ferment has a surprisingly strong impact and you may find that when you crack open that folder again, you’ll be greeted with a cool crisp shot. Niiice.
The lesson here for me is to think a little less and to shoot more. If it seems boring, it may well be but is there a harm to taking the shot? We’ll probably be looking back on the quarantine times with quite a bit of confusion, resentment and a truck load of other feelings. As photographers we only get one chance to capture these little moments and we don’t want to be sat in a few years time thinking “dang; I wish I had taken more pictures around then…”
Pick up yer cameras and shoot some cool photos.