Photographing where you live

Sunday afternoon walk aroundI had that itch to go out and make some images but was at a bit of a loss as to what, exactly, to photograph. So I just set off on foot with my X-T1 and Mitakon 24mm lens and spent a couple of hours walking around the town I live in – Hastings, New Zealand. The image above, by the way, is at the back of Vidals winery, one of the oldest in Hawke’s Bay. I can only guess that the Hobbit shaped doors were originally for getting large wine barrels in or out.

Eugene Atget was one of the first photographers who made it a large part of his life’s work to document the city he lived in. Though this was Paris. Initially he produced images of Parisian architecture to sell to artists so that they could copy the buildings in their paintings. Somewhere along the way it seems the need just to document took over and we have much to be thankful for in that, for Atget’s Paris has all but disappeared.

We perhaps neglect the important, if unglamorous, role that photographers can play in making images of our own villages, towns or cities. Simply by living there rather than visiting we know them, have time to explore and can record changes over time. It’s a worthwhile task, especially as it is possible to create still or poetic or energetic images from the everyday.

When I got home and looked at the pictures I had made on my walk I noticed what can’t be a coincidence but was not a conscious part of my image making. Most of the photographs had  circles or part circles (and ovals, ellipses and so on) and vertical lines as  compositional elements. The OI or IO or OOI… And I was sure I was simply making photographs of random stuff that caught my eye. Though I don’t want to overplay it… I could equally say that shadows are just as common a theme. See what you think.

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All images © Simon Shaw 2015

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