Now we’ve introduced ourselves and told you a little bit about The Caravan Gallery we’d like to share some thoughts about our approach to photography. Although we love technology and embrace the freedom and creative potential it gives us we’re not as equipment- obsessed as some of those Proper Photographers out there. We’re artists who use photography to document the ordinary and extraordinary details of everyday life and we would never dream of going anywhere without our cameras. We aim to capture brilliant thought provoking images that tell stories and encourage people to ask questions about the world in which we live.
Our Pride of Place Project in 2011 at the Space Gallery, University of Portsmouth forced us to explore our adopted home city with new eyes and succeeded in reigniting our sense of wonder. It’s fair to say our radar is pretty finely tuned when we’re on the road with The Caravan Gallery and nothing much escapes our eagle eyes in our quest for local character and sense of place. Applying the same principles to a city we thought we knew so well forced us to look even harder and take unfamiliar routes to familiar places.
The pictures we’re showing you this month have all been taken in Portsmouth over the years – some were fleeting accidental discoveries that could have been made anywhere whilst others are more place-specific such as the Lady Hamilton roast dinner sign in a pub window, the Star and Crescent tattoo and the Little Bit Taller billboard outside Fratton Park football ground. This inspired piece of graffiti only lasted a few days and illustrates why we always like to have a trusty Lumix at the ready. We’ve lost count of the times people tell us about the amazing photos they’d have taken had they remembered their camera.
We’re interested in psychogeography, or people’s relationship to place, and love to see how places evolve, especially when a little bit of mischief and imagination is involved. Shops and enterprises provide a rich source of attention-grabbing material with their recession-busting offers – we’d love to know if anybody got married in that 1p Wedding Dress; as for Mr Cheap – who claimed to be the cheapest, (just in case you thought he was expensive) – well he’s closed down. Shop windows provide a great opportunity for self-expression, whether proclaiming religious and political beliefs or entertaining potential customers with slightly surreal and occasionally saucy window displays.
DIY and everyday creativity are thriving in Britain today judging by the proliferation of homemade and amended signage. A prime example is the former Strand Bar, reincarnated as The Bastard (unnoticed for days by many passers-by) thanks to someone with a ladder and a wicked sense of humour; we charted various name changes over the days that followed until nothing but a letter T remained. On our well-trodden route home from the studio one day we noticed an outbreak of photocopied posters attached to every other lamp post and dog bin. An almost illegible font proclaiming Wendy’s 60th was accompanied by a less than flattering picture of said birthday girl. It was impossible to work out if the poster’s creator had chosen the best or worst picture of the poor woman as there was nobody around to ask but we hope she had a happy birthday anyway.
The street is a stage for all manner of intentional and accidental art from psychopathic snowmen to supermarket trolley dashes involving cut-price Easter eggs. Our surroundings are in constant flux due to small scale human intervention, large scale regeneration or forces beyond our control. Our job is to record it!
We were early adopters of digital cameras because they suit our working methods perfectly, allowing us the freedom to be spontaneous and take large numbers of pictures on the move. We have used Lumix cameras for around 8 years because they were the first to offer some of the innovative features so useful for street photography – image stabilization, flip-out screens , excellent quality lenses and powerful zoom capacity without the bulk. The innovative micro four thirds system allows for great flexibility and control in an exceptionally compact package. Another bonus is the sophisticated Intelligent Auto function which gives reliably good results time after time – reassuring to know when there’s no time to change settings.
As the Lumix range has progressed the image quality has improved to the point where we are now able to produce A1 prints with no loss of quality. We will tell you more about our cameras in future posts.