With the renaming of this site from Ramblings of the Bearded One to Painting With Shadows (see last post), it seems appropriate that my first post under the new header should feature my good friend, the poet David Mark Williams.
Mark (as he’s known to his friends) was the subject of one of the major turning points in my journey towards becoming a photographer. It was this photo of him that changed everything for me
At the time it was light years ahead of anything I’d done before, and I remember being shocked, but very, very excited I’d managed to produce something so attention grabbing, moody and textural. In that moment I knew photography was never going to be the same again for me. Pretty flowers, rolling landscapes and sleeping kittens were all very well, but none of them spoke to my soul like the intense gaze of a shadowed face.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve decided one direction I wish to move in is to do more in the way of, for want of a better phrase, narrative photography. Not images captured, describing what happened, but images created, telling a story. The photos I’ve been doing for the Authors as Characters project could be described as such – the stage is set, the costumes are found, borrowed or created, and the story is at the heart of the image.
Collaborating with other people is also at the core of this. Again, it is not product photography – input of the people involved on both sides of the camera is fundamental.
During one of our many regular chats, Mark and I started talking about doing a photo of one of his poems. Ideas bounced back and forth and we eventually decided to have a go at "A Drunk Man Dances With A Lamppost" – a poem he’d submitted to, and been accepted by, Envoi, a poetry magazine (Issue 164).
As with all grand ideas, few things were straightforward or went smoothly. One of the first things I discovered while location scouting was that lampposts tend to be far taller than I’d thought. Even with short ones, if I was to fit the entire post in, the figure standing under it would be so small as to be virtually insignificant. Then there was the fact the light was so low I had to have the camera on a very slow shutter speed, which meant the slightest movement and the figure became blurred. Not to mention it was close to, or slightly below freezing, so fingers and toes were steadily getting colder and more numb with each passing attempt.
However, persistence and determination paid off and eventually we ended up with an image we were both pleased with.
So now, ladies, gentlemen and people who don’t feel comfortable being labelled in either of those categories, may I present to you…
A Drunk Man Dances with a Lamppost
He’s overwhelmed with sweet silver notes,
music only he can hear,
the still night air, a ceiling of stars,
and no more to say than the lamppost
while they try out who knows
a foxtrot, a quick step, a Viennese waltz.
They are of the same cast, ungainly, rigid,
veering from a dead slump to spells
of freeze-frame lunges and leans.
His hold on the lamppost alone is constant
as he winds down in clockwork spasms,
legs snapping at the knees,
shoes clattering on the pavement.
However long it takes, he’ll keep it up
until they get it right,
take to the floor, step out together.
David Mark Williams
As always, feel free to click on the images for larger versions