We’ve all been there, the almost shot. My advice: delete it. Too often, we go places hoping to capture a lasting image of a well-known location or edifice, even an animal. We all are influenced and inspired by what we see from other photographers, by what we like, and the subconscious need to bring forth just that. The most important inspiration ought to be the lack of it. Something not yet captured, or seen entirely new. The other day we were off to Northumberland, Hadrian’s Wall, a wind-swept, wild corner of England, rich in history, ripe for one’s consciousness of perception.
The weather is what it is on our Isles, unpredictable. Clouds add drama, granted, but a flat sky can quickly turn a scenery dull. Hadrian’s Wall is impressive and deserves images that do its thousands of year old stonework justice. The Border-building boulders (excuse my love for alliteration) ooze energy and the echoes of the soldiers’ moans and calls seem to linger.
Stone by stone the wall tells stories of ancient times, battles fought, riches craved, strangers drawing lines to divide foreign fields. A haunted quality sweeps across these lands on a blustery October afternoon, asking for a black and white reproduction. Monochrome must be a conscious choice, not a bad-weather option. It reduces an image to its textures, not grayscale’s, but stark blacks and whites to bring out grittiness, nothingness and possibly the energy of clouds.
Yet the one image that would truly survive my own scrutiny wasn’t one of the monument we’d come to photograph, but an image of two horses. It was these two animals that truly captured the essence of the place to me in the end. All but these here images: deleted. There is no point in keeping almost-there’s. It would only reduce the quality of a body of work, however small. Nothing is lost by being critical, but art gains worth. This below is my favourite shot from Hadrian’s Wall:
“On an October afternoon, on the North Pennine moors, the threat of stormy days whistled by the mocking wind, sunlight but a fire banked for slumber, its flames thinning under dusk’s gauzy shroud, the horses stand stalwart on the edge of the land, wandering silhouettes in this elemental dance.”