We push forwards, focused on the final few meters out to the very edge of Brighton’s iconic West Pier. We’re now so far off the promenade all we can hear is the roar of the wind and crashing of sea far below, the cold sea mist and pitch black night belittling our historic victory.
The barbed wire proves an easy deterrent to navigate as we slip casually around the locked and pinned steel gate wrapped in evil bubble wrap. Looking back at the dark promenade, we double check for onlookers before three would-be-spies steal on to Brighton’s most iconic nautical landmark.
Darting along a steel reinforced walkway we traverse the first narrow length of pier with ease, quickly arriving at the broken shell of the first hulking wooden skeleton; a once ornate space for the south-coasts’ elite, now a rotting and peeling carapace of it’s former glory, but still structurally sound and oozing a classy Victorian façade half hidden by mold and erosion.
We flank the hall by way of an outer walkway and slowly approach the second thin length of pier, but no re-enforced steel here, just saturated wood and cooing pigeons settling in for the night. Crouching on all fours we spread ourselves out and work along the brown-turned-green planks, one by one, step by step, passing deep-red rusting iron chairs where once sat royalty.
We stop at the main hall, a catastrophic mess of mangled wood and twisted wrought iron, of derelict materials strewn by the high sea winds, of a million birds nests perched on every protrusion possible, and it’s a sobering moment to behold. We cower out of the cool night wind as blue moonlight streams through gaping holes in the roof, the eerie spotlights casting ghostly shadows within the beaten and broken shell. The ancient flooring creaks nervously as we lizard-crawl onward, now passing large black holes descending down to the crashing waves beneath. A fall now would be certain death.
We push forwards, focused on the final few meters out to the very edge of Brighton’s iconic West Pier, now so far off the promenade all we can hear is the roar of the wind and crashing of the sea far below. Sliding my head through the very last black Victorian grating I settle in to a smile, and with the cold sea mist and pitch black night belittling our victory with a patronizing laugh, let the white noise take over.
Shooting analogue was a combination of artistic bliss and personal bankruptcy, so when digital cameras hit the market we all thought the same thing: win win. But after 15 years shooting digital, my field-work attitude had shifted for the worse; I became accustomed to the high FPS my Nikons could turn over, became lazy when bracketing for HDR, began to abuse high ISO, just accepting the grain in all weather. I’d even leave my tripod at home and just make do with image stabilistion. Above all, I’d become lazy, relying on technology to finish a process I’d start in my mind. I didn't start like that during my analogue days; back then it was sacrilege to 'fill the buffer', as it were - we thought, composed, and captured with each and every click. Romanticised maybe, but true.
So I changed.
Capturing one solid image for a collection is pretty easy, anyone can take a great image with a bit of skill, practise, and luck. Seriously, anyone. Two great images - still not hard and sometimes they even look good together. Three, four, and five start taxing the cranium; you need to start thinking ahead, above, and beyond. You start to sweat. Working up to ten images takes dedication, time, and skill, but once you have your collection, you get a real sense of achievement.
Forcing ourselves to select a limited number of images amongst an infinite number of possibilities enables us to think deeper about our photography, it gives us motivation and focus during times of lack-luster malaise, and it aligns our thoughts, encouraging exploration and thematic expression in collections.
IOIMG isn't typically about obsessive image matching for competitions or exhibitions (although I'd go so far as to say the images in your collections should, in some way, compliment each other), nor is it particularly constrained when choosing subjects or themes for image pools; I like to use IOIMG as more of a guiding principle designed to help maintain standards and encourage exploration in my photography as I explore the many different avenues within the discipline.
Without a guide, we'd get lost.