Showing this photograph strays outside my comfort zone. I feel uneasy sharing something that doesn’t conform to my usual aesthetic.
I walk along the Thames towpath along the river’s edge from Greenhithe to a spot right underneath the QEII Bridge. The sky is clear blue and (almost) cloud free, so it’s a lovely day to be out. The mid-morning temperature is warm for a winter’s day and the sun bright, even glary.
After arriving at my planned spot, I feel a few twinges, symptoms of a home desk-sitting lifestyle looking at a computer screen photo-editing and writing; and not walking enough. Doesn’t matter, I’m here now. A gulp of water and a few squares of choc and my attention shifts to the trellis metalwork design of the bridge’s underside. It stretches away from over me across the river towards Essex, like a giant guitar fretboard.
Hum, now, how do I want to photograph it? What’s this scene all about for me? I could simply capture an image of the bridge over the Thames on a sunny day. But that’s been done hundreds of times. And it won’t focus a viewer’s attention on the bridge’s elegant, simple design, strong lines and concrete and metal textures. Nor its grandeur as a 2 mile (3.2 km) long structure connecting two counties and facilitating journeys for over 130,000 vehicles a day.
Time to try something different. I want this to be all about the bridge. It’s a high contrast day, with bright highlights, deep shadows and some intense colours, particularly blue and yellow. But they’re all distractions. I don’t want the viewer’s eye to drift to the sky or the background.
My plan is to mute all colours, not quite to black and white but certainly subdued. Then, enhance the already strong glare to surround the structure in a sort of haze. I’m briefly tempted to merge in the pillars, leaving only the bridge’s underside. But that would change my idea completely, to a pure abstract image. It would also remove some of the textures of the materials, as seen in the concrete base and supports. I don’t want that. I want the picture to retain the core essence of the QEII Bridge.
The final photograph is nothing like my regular style but it matches my idea and I like it.
Nevertheless, am I right to feel uneasy about sharing the image? Doesn’t it just look odd and out of place in my portfolio? Perhaps I should keep these experimental pieces to myself. Better still, just stay within the parameters of my usual style.
No. No experimenting, no failures = no development, progress, or freshness. The photograph may not be an award winner but taking a step outside of the comfort zone is ultimately a step forward, maybe to future work that’s much stronger. Anyway, no one else really cares. So, forget feeling uneasy.
Photograph what you like for yourself and stop worrying about what others think.