On the way to the Apple store on Thursday night eager to get my hot hands on the fabulous new iPad Air I got talking to my black cab driver about photography. Clearly we share the same passion! I alluded to the picture I took from the back of a black cab ten days ago and he asked if I was a fan of ICM. And this was the first time I realised the streaky Monet style bluebell wood, the stripy Waterloo Bridge skyline, the fabricated album cover incorporating fuzzy neon and the previous cab exploits have a name - and that's intentional camera movement. Yes I am a fan of ICM, I don't think I'm remotely on the way to being an aficionado but I definitely want to explore further and see the possibilities. After my successful foray into the Apple store I had to stop and capture the lights on Oxford Street. Thinking about our conversation about ICM I had to see if I could do something with the Christmas lights, the lights from the traffic whizzing past me and street lights. And this was the result.
My cab driver gives me a name to look up - Valda Bailey, who embodies this style. I love her website and it reminds me so much why I embraced photography. When I was younger I was always drawing, painting, creating pieces. But I was never quick on the draw so it was a time consuming hobby. In later years I would occasionally tackle projects, like the painstaking reproduction of Monet’s lilies in teeny, tiny coloured squares of paper. But it took weeks slaving over a hot Pritt glue stick and I found generally I didn't have time for creative projects. When I picked up a camera more seriously again, when digital meant I didn't have to flaunt my mistakes in front of the processing team at Boots and later my friends at Virgin Photo. The pictures I was drawn to were not dissimilar to what I would draw and paint, still lives, details, jewellery, flowers and landscapes. I very rarely drew people or anything alive other than perhaps a plant. My main argument was I needed so much time to make something I was proud of, people didn't want to sit that long. If I drew animals I would meticulously reproduce images in pencil of gorgeous photographs from my animal books. We didn't really do life drawing at school, I posed (fully clothed I hasten to add) for some expectations with charcoal, but didn't partake myself. A few years later I posed for a painting for a friends A-level art, where he had me pose reclining with my long hair tuning into branches of a tree. I never saw the finished work but he was a talented artist It was unusual for me to draw from memory, I needed the subject in front of me. A project I did when I took my art O-level was a crushed Coke can became a regular revisited subject. Over the years I reproduced it in many media, tiny dots of red, black, silver, grey or soft watercolour strokes, bold acrylic, blended pencil lines, felt tips etcetera. I always loved the interplay of the facets of shiny metal, the light and the shade the crushing of the can would produce, I was never interested in a unadulterated can in the same way.
Now I can see the parallel between me painting these Coke cans and getting lost in some minutiae of detail through my close-up filters. ICM can give photographs a more painterly feeling, moving from realism to abstract. To some extent using a 10-stop filter to produce those soft, milky seas and creamy, smudgy streaked skies is another form. This is not the scene our eyes perceive but a more abstract interpretation.
My cab driver also told me of a photographic workshop he was involved in and it sounds very me. The tour involves driving around a London in a black cab and stopping to get out to photograph landmarks. Hmmm photography combined with a black cab, sounds pretty perfect for me! He mentioned the photographer he partners with to run these workshops - Doug Chinnery, and suggested I should check out his website. I did, I liked gear I saw, signed up for one workshops and enquired about two others. I've a feeling 2014 is going to be even more photographic than this year.