It’s 5.30am and just like my parents twenty odd years prior, I quietly finish loading up the car. Unlike twenty odd years ago, I’m not tucked up on the back seat of the car under a duvet!
This early morning excursion is an attempt to beat the May bank holiday traffic about to descend upon the South West of England. Astonishingly, the journey goes to plan and as we approach our destination the sun disappears into a thick, low, stationary rain cloud. We are now officially on holiday in Salcombe.
As a photographer, a holiday is a bit of a poisoned chalice. I am hopelessly hooked on photography and can NOT go more than a day without having to pick up a camera. My eye is always hungry for a picture and my shutter finger is indiscriminately over-zealous!
The result of this is often tons of homeless and neglected photos sitting on a hard drive. Holidays have a habit of creating an influx of such unfortunate images. Such is the magnitude of this problem, even a trip to the coolest of destinations can be met with an air of trepidation. I often wonder if a real holiday would be to take my hard drive of vagabond photos somewhere grey, featureless and wet and start giving them a home, and purpose. Not sure what the family would make of that though, and no doubt it wouldn’t be long before I picked up a camera.
Since the explosion of camera phones, there’s been much discussion about people’s obsession with photographing events rather than actually “experiencing them”. I can talk for hours on this subject, and if you see me in the pub after a couple of jars you’d be well advised not to broach the subject. Rather than bore you over several paragraphs, let me simply say, that exploring the world around me with a camera is something that is a complete and utter compulsion that I have no desire to break from.
Despite this, I do believe that from time to time, it is important to leave the camera at home and experience the world from a camera-less point of view. If you’re anything like me, leaving your camera behind can be a painful experience and can feel like one of those dreams where you turn up to work in your pyjamas. This forced separation however can be a real benefit to creative thinking and the new experience can change our way of seeing, challenge certain thought processes and influence our approach on future photographic endeavours.
“The only source of knowledge is experience”
– Albert Einstein
Salcombe in a Box
Back in Salcombe, after several days of “British” weather, I began to think about the role of photography to a photographer on holiday. The combination of tricky weather and an adorable but equally tricky baby boy, meant that any naïve hopes of long clifftop walks and rambles that explored hidden coves soon vanished. I put a brave face on, quelled my frustration and ignored my twitching shutter finger. But it wasn’t long before I realised that these circumstances weren’t inhibiting my photography, merely my approach. I had arrived in Salcombe in auto-pilot and failed to recognise it as an opportunity to change my approach and See Things Different!
The decisive moment came as we finished a rather tasty box of M&S macaroons. I could still walk the dog with a push chair in the pouring rain and create photography that reflected the environment I was experiencing. I just had to change my approach.
As we continued with our relatively short excursions around Salcombe, I started to collect items that interested me and reflected our experience. Back where we were staying, I refined the scavenged items and placed them into an individual segment of the former macaroon box that had served us so well. Just before we left, I photographed the reinterpreted box on the dining room floor boards, using the kitchen door as a light source and the inside of a cool bag as a reflector. And that is how “Salcombe in a Box” came to be.