Friday, 19 August 2011

SPIRIT by Annie Marie Arpin

SPIRIT by Anne Marie Arpin

I came across Anne Marie Arpin's work on Flickr and what struck me most was the freshness and simplicity of her photographs. Often I say that I am not a vain person and yet I suppose it could be argued that there is an element of vanity in choosing a photographer whose work one admires with a request that he or she produces an image of oneself in the same or similar style. However, it is not obvious to me and I just felt that I would like to meet the woman who produced these lovely open photographs.

And so it was that I met Anne Marie in London and we had a coffee together and talked about my project and her work. She is quite shy but that is part of her charm and one is aware that, under the surface, there is a quiet intelligence which, coupled with a strong personality, infuses her work with brio.

We agreed to meet for a shoot at some later date and eventually we chose 8th August 2011 right slap bang in the middle of the London Riots which had started in Tottenham only a couple of days previously. When I arrived in Hackney, I noticed several pockets of one or two young people hanging around the centre. We went to a pub which Anne Marie had chosen for the shoot. It was very quiet in there and we had a drink and she shot some photographs. She used a medium format camera, a Mamiya 7 but she admitted that she was a little nervous because normally she only photographed friends, I said that today I would be her friend. After about an hour we left the pub and walked outside and I noticed that the pockets of people were now three or four in number. Anne Marie asked if I felt any tension in the air and I said that I certainly did but we went to the park in any event for some more shots. The park was almost completely deserted and, after about thirty minutes, we wandered back to the centre and by now there was a large crowd of young kids blocking one of the roads. A bus was held up by a guy ambling across in front of it and it was clear that there was no way that the bus driver was going to move or toot his horn as it would almost certainly have started a riot there and then. I was planning at that stage to take a bus to Victoria but decided against it and escaped via the Overground and about an hour later, all hell let loose.

BUT in spite of all the trouble and tension, it was an enjoyable shoot and I liked working with Anne Marie very much indeed and I loved the photos she sent to me. Again, it was very difficult to choose an image but we both liked this one and so I have included it in my project. The calmness of the pose and the green of the tennis court belies what is happening only a few hundred yards away but more than this - it is a perfectly composed picture and a beautiful example of a simple portrait. It is exactly what I wanted from working with Anne Marie and fully justifies my decision to approach her. She is a great photographer.

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