For she’s a jolly good Fellow, and so said… The five judges who scored my panel at the recent SWPP Annual Convention. Having just returned from a luxurious stay at the Hilton London Metropole, now home to the SWPP Convention, I’m proud to announce my achievement in becoming a Fellow. The culmination of around 14 months work, to create a panel of 20 pictures which were then entered into the portrait category for this prestigious distinction (achieved by less than 1% of UK photographers), the highest qualification by submission in the UK.
My aim has always been to take ownership of this body of work and not photograph another’s creation. With this in mind, I undertook a 500 mile journey to attend a two-day course in basic foam design with Foam Wizard, John Davis. Over the ensuing months I hand-crafted all the armour, helmets, collars, cloaks and accessories portrayed in these pictures. Enabling me to maintain the integrity of my initial concept. My intent was also to use camera-craft and technique to create each image in-camera. The pictures were shot in my garden and garage, and at a friends home in Nogdam End. The people featured are all family and friends, who gave freely of their time to share my photographic journey.
Featuring key members of a monarchical society, this story of this panel drew its form from a combination of historical narrative and science fiction, both loves shared between my father and I. I threw myself into creating a story and bringing to life my cast of characters. This brought much joy, frustration, sleepless nights and self-doubt. With each completed photograph ideas changed and grew – it seemed, at times, as if the panel was creating itself and taking a direction I hadn’t initially intended. The two young sisters featured, became beacons of hope, not only for their journey within this piece, but also for me, it began to feel as if we travelled the path to enlightened hope together. A fan of the Chiarascuro device, I attempted to include its strong contrasts between dark and light wherever possible, aiming to reinforce the thread of hope hand-stitched into the fabric of my story.
My choice to display the images in 4:3 format, was one born of nostalgia, influenced by my parents love of silent movies and early television – I know this would have made them smile. I chose to portray many of my characters large within the frame, aiming to add a feeling of claustrophobia and restriction and to portray a sense of self-obsession. The absence of bright colour was a device employed to depict the darkness associated with a war-torn society. The paper chosen to print this panel was not left to chance, I trialled nine and selected the one I feel works best with the tonal range, along with mounts to add to the overall darkness of the piece.
Finally, I made a storybook album in scrapbook form to accompany the panel, which was presented to the five judges on the day of judging. I’m happy to say my panel received a unanimous pass, with all five judges giving a thumbs up!
The images below show some behind the scenes pictures of the process. Followed by my panel and its associated story.
Above: behind the scenes at the judging. Below: the layout of the panel.
And so the story begins…
Left: The Awards Ceremony at the Hilton London Metropole, with Phil Jones of The Societies.
My only sadness is that my mother didn’t get to see the pictures, she was always a great advocate of my work. It was apt I achieved this qualification on the first anniversary of her death. This panel is dedicated to her – Maud May Felgate (1926-2015).
My thanks to: Mark Butler, Jessica Tuohy and her Posing Ponies, Lisa North, Hayley Bird, Carly Moskwa-Margiotta, Joanna Swan, Al Pulford, Kayla and Lauren Moggach, Paul Parker and Maggie Parker.