30 May 2021
Cris (Crispin) Ricketts, raking soil for planting at Farnham Community Farm, May 2020.
He leans towards camera actively, grimacing slightly with effort. The sky makes up three-quarters of the background, bright and almost cloudless in the early summer heat.
I’d spent half a day at the farm photographing by that point and I was sweating in the heat myself. As Cris raked, I backed up carefully, trying to avoid stepping on anything that might have been planted, whilst adjusting the focusing knob on my Yashica 635 TLR with small movements.
Too often I find I take the wide view, one where in this case you would have seen the rake as it carved through the soil in addition to Cris. This time, I wanted stay close. To keep the focus on him, his face, where you can see his eyes crinkled along their laughter lines, squinting against the glare. This meant that I cut off the arm closest to the camera, where the forearm leads to his left hand holding onto the handle closer to the rake head, guiding it in rapid strokes through the soil. But I think the picture works.
You don’t need to see the whole rake to know what he is doing. Instead, you might notice other details; the dimpled pattern of the long-sleeve t-shirt, with the sleeves pushed up, his right hand stretched behind him, pressing forcefully on the end of the long wooden handle of the rake. The physicality of it. All farming is hard work, including small-hold, sustainable, community vegetable farming.
I’ve recently printed this image from my project ‘Pure Soil’ for display as part of Surrey Artists Open Studios, in June 2021. Other prints from the series will be displayed alongside it, as well as some new, more experimental work that complements the project and ties in with the subject.
More information about my SAOS opening days and times here.
30 May 2021
This year, I am again taking part in Surrey Artists Open Studios (SAOS) with some of the other makers and artists at Little Acre Studios. My studio (Peppercorn) will be open, along with those of painter Kim Cody (see my portrait creative session photographs of her here), jewellery maker Melanie Lucas, and ceramic artist Michelle Shields.
I will be showing darkroom prints from my project ‘Pure Soil’, alongside displays and prints of more experimental work that tie in with the subject. Those who come to SAOS will get first look at this new work I’ve been creating. I’m excited to exhibit and feel it’s a great opportunity to get feedback on this work from the general public, as well as the artist and maker community of Surrey.
Little Acre Studios is part of the ‘Bourne and Beyond Trail’ in Farnham. There is so much wonderful art and craft to see at SAOS, so we do hope you’ll pay us a visit. See the graphics below for a map as well as opening days and times.
30 May 2021
Work finally picked up a little in May as the pandemic restrictions eased again, and I was happy to be able to do a portrait commission for Dr Hannah Greig. Dr Greig is an academic historian specialising in the Georgian period and Beau Monde. She has also acted as a historical consultant for film and television, including Sanditon and the Netflix hit Bridgerton.
Mindful of COVID precautions, even though some of the restrictions had been lifted, I suggested mainly outdoor locations for the portrait session. We started in her own garden, in the picture at the top. We moved to my studio where I had set up a backdrop and opened the double doors to provide light and, crucially in this pandemic age, ventilation. It also meant I could set up my camera outside the studio.
Finally, we moved once more to another outdoor location. I had secured permission to photograph in the grounds of Waverley Abbey House, a Grade II* listed Georgian mansion that stands opposite the ruins of Waverley Abbey on the bank of the River Wey.
It was a fun afternoon with plenty of good conversation and Dr Grieg was a great sport. You can follow Dr Grieg on Twitter.
I am available for more portrait commissions. If you are interested, please do get in touch via email for rates.