Friday, 8 August 2014

SO NEAR by Alys Tomlinson

SO NEAR by Alys Tomlinson

So near. So near where? So near the Arsenal Football ground for a start. This was taken by Alys right at the end of the shoot in the Eco-Reserve. It was a nice, warm day but without much sun which was perfect for taking photographs. We also discovered that if was perfect for an illicit lunch hour snog - not Alys and me but the couple on the other side of the clearing where we stopped to take first set of photographs. Eventually, they found that they couldn't give each other the attention they required and pushed off. 

I first contacted Alys in December 2012 after coming across her work by way of Portrait Salon and Twitter. She answered almost immediately and suggested a location shot in the Spring using film. However, it was not until September 2013 that we met in London for a chat - by that stage, she had already suggested the Eco-Reserve as a location. I was pleased because she was chasing me rather than the other way round. She continued to pursue me and eventually we met at Arsenal Tube Station and spent a very pleasant hour talking and photographing in the Reserve. Initially I posed in the snog clearing, some with my shirt on and some without. Actually, come to think of it,  this shot came sort of in the middle of the shoot. There was a point when we we went into the bushes and Alys photographed me through the branches heavy with green leaves, that I thought about how much I love this project. She looked at me so intently through the lens and I looked back and we communicated. 

Why do I like this shot so much? Well, it is a great photograph, full of colour and contrast. Also, and this doesn't sound that momentous but, physically, I was so much better after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery a few months earlier that it was quite a big deal that I was able to lie down on a park bench like that. Interestingly, Alys shot it from the top so that my scalp is in focus and, of course, that is where the electrodes are whirring away sending their little messages to all parts of my body to enable me to do things like lie down on a park bench. I have often said that this project isn't about my illness but about me at a time when I happen to be ill but I cannot really separate one form the other as the illness has such a hold over me. However, at the moment, we are equal partners. So near.
Anyway, back to Alys and the photograph. 

Yes, I love how the colours contrast with each other and are so rich and deep which I do feel that one can only achieve to that extent on film. I am not a photographer and so some excellent digital photographers may take issue with this but it is a point of view held by many photographers I have met and worked with.

Afterwards, we went back to Alys' flat just round the corner and had a cup of tea and a chat. Alys is a lovely person and a very talented photographer and it was an absolute pleasure spending time with her. And then, I went home and told Jane all about it.

"Twas so good to be young then,
 To be close to the earth
 Now the green leaves of summer,
 Are calling me home"


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