“Thanks for taking the time to come with me, by the way,” she says. “I’ve been planning to go back since I got this new Kodak, and company’s always nice.”
“Not a problem. I didn’t have anything scheduled today anyway.”
Looking to me, she smiles cheerfully.
Amber and I are on a short train journey away to the art gallery that we’d first met at. It was a particularly dear location to Amber because it’s where a 71-year-old portrait of her great-grandfather was kept. He was a fairly renowned Dutch fisherman and sailor before the Second World War.
It’s almost two in the afternoon. The sun’s moderate flare is coupled with a gentle breeze. Amber withdraws the Kodak camera from its small pouch slung around her neck and turns it on.
“Check some of these out, if you like,” she says, edging the camera at me. I begin looking through the photos she had taken. Photos of various things, in various locations. Such striking quality.
“The angles,” I say with my eyes still fixed at the Kodak, “…there are some very interesting and unexpected angles in a lot of these.” With notable elation in her tone, she responds,
“You think so? It makes me glad that you said that because angles are my thing. That’s what I put a lot of focus into. Angles are where my imagination runs wild when it comes to photography. I tend to capture very ordinary things or sceneries, but the angles, the point of view, those are aspects which carry the most contemplation and regard for me. Any amateur photographer will tell how crucial it is to consider angles, but to me, point of view is… where I have fun with photography. I try to be offbeat and experimental with angles. It’s often risky, but, hey. It’s not so much like a technical thing for me. It’s more like – Okay, let me toy around with some angles until I find the one which tells the untold or the hidden or unnoticed story of this photo. Do you know what I mean? Photographers are very powerful in that, through their camera perspective alone can you view a scene they’ve shot. However they decided to take the photo, whichever approach or angle they use, sets the parameters of how the scene can be viewed. A photo will tell a story. So I try to capture unique perspectives which will subsequently tell a unique story to what another perspective might give you. At least I try to.
“Don’t get me wrong, though, angles are my biggest consideration when it comes to free photography. But when I’m working on conceptual pieces or something like that, angles still matter, of course, but I have a more levelled consideration of other elements of photography. Like what I’m shooting, exposure, lighting, composition, depth of field, you know. I become equally as scrupulous with those aspects when I’m building something conceptual as I do with my angles when I’m doing free photography.”
Before we head to the gallery, we decide upon getting a bite to eat beforehand. Once inside, Amber leads the way for the most part with me stringing closely behind, catching a gape at pieces that steal my attention. With her Kodak camera, she takes dozens of photos. Not long after we came in, she asked me to capture her beside the portrait of her great-grandfather. She stood straight, smiling at the camera with her arms in front of her.
“I noticed you’ve got your hair up today,” I say to her randomly at one point. “I don’t recall seeing you with it up since we’ve met.” She smiles sheepishly.
“Yeah, I don’t really like to have it up.” As she says this she brushes a couple strands of hair behind her left ear. She has two orbital piercings in that ear.
“Why’s that?” I question whilst examining her face in slight detail.
“My ears. I look like an elf.” she says with a laugh. I laugh also, and tell her,
“Come on, no you don’t. They’re just ears. They come in various sizes. Yours aren’t even big. You look good with your hair up.”
You think so? she smiles, and I nod before turning to the smallish sculpting of a seal beside us, of which Amber captures with her camera.
Thank you for reading this piece. I’m rather unsure about it, to be honest. It’s a continuation of a piece I had divided into three blog posts two years ago, which happens to still be my favourite piece of writing I’ve done since – largely because the piece wrote itself, and it is my most ‘thorough’ work yet. I haven’t touched up the other blog posts but if you want some background to this piece, I’ll leave the links below.