The exploration of non-place has continued its journey through in city petrol stations.
As from a previous post a non-place is an area designed for use by humans but is not permanently occupied by us, examples include airports, train stations, supermarkets and of course fuel stations.
The original interest came from a photographic project during my degree looking at the world of A Road Petrol Stations photographed at night time. The fuel stations are an example of non-place and the idea behind photographing them at night time was to cause a feeling of isolation but also as a beacon of safety in the dark.
The original outline of the project was the fuel stations had to be outside of urban areas and on stretches of A Road which have few or no street lights. The main idea behind that is it reduces the amount of light pollution creating a sky which is an even deeper black thus accentuating the isolation.
When this set of photographs was first taken my grandfather was still alive so they were more about gathering memories of this house before he moved out and into a sheltered living arrangement. Many of the images were from recollections when growing up and visiting both my paternal grandparents. In the over 10 years since his wife had died my grandfather’s house underwent little to no change. The only real change had been him relocating his bed to the living room as mobility up and down the stairs started to become more of a concern.
The set of images was shot on medium format film, Kodak Portra 160, using a Mamiya RB67.
Recently when working for a new client I was quite privileged to photograph two Regimental Sergeant Major ‘Dine Outs’ in a row. To the uninformed these are basically retirement parties for individuals who have spent a very large portion of their life serving in the army, the first was 23 years of service and the most recent was retiring after 25 years!
Amongst the formalities of the evening there were several speeches which I was there to photograph. Halfway through shooting it dawned on me that I was the only person with a camera / photographing. The closest thing I can compare it to would be the speeches after a wedding breakfast, in this scenario there would be several other people in the room either filming a video on their phone or taking pictures using a personal digital camera, but in this room I was the only one. This level of exclusivity was quite humbling and the weight of responsibility came with it.
The lighting conditions were by far the most difficult I’ve ever had to shoot in with candles on the tables kicking out warm light and the fluorescent tubes lighting the paintings of famous sea battles on the walls pushing out cold light.
Asides from these aspects I also considered the importance of being able to photograph in this place. A non-place which has been stood here for over 100 years and so rarely gets seen by all but an exclusive group of people. Not like ‘joe public’ can wander in to have a look around. In the same way that I have photographed in prison cells, or other rarely seen worlds, it is photography’s responsibility to document even the most mundane of things.