Learning Context In Photography

I had been meaning to do something with my old photographs for a while, and whilst I hate the thought of being dragged into yet another social media hole, I finally took the plunge and settled on Instagram as the format to save my old images. It's not perfect as the site's aspect ratio can clip a lot off of an image, but its better than them not being used or more importantly, being lost forever.

Something quite profound struck me as I went through my old photos - some of which were taken back in 2005 on an old Samsung Digimax S500 my grandad had brought me for my birthday at eighteen. The subject isn't what's interesting in hindsight, the context within a set time or event was.

For years I have tried to capture historical and wild places with as few people around as possible, trying to capture what is in essence, a kind of timelessness. looking back I wish I had taken more photos with people in, with traffic or with building works in the background. Anything that could place an image back at the time when it was taken. That might sound a bit paradoxical, and it would be a strange thing to say I suppose if I were hoping to sell my photo prints to stock photography merchants, but most of the time I'm not.

A realisation has dawned on me; there is no point in taking a photo of a castle that has stood for some eight-hundred years or so, if the same image could have been taken a hundred years ago, or indeed in another hundred years. Having an image of a stranger in front of said castle using an iPhone today might seem totally boring, but actually in another twenty years it could very well end up being a nostalgic art piece!

It's just a shame that it has taken me over a decade to learn this fact, but its something which will hopefully put me in good stead for the rest of my life. By all means its still good to get perfectly timeless images of landmarks, but from now on I will certainly stop throwing away what I had always deemed junk images because a car or a random person had photo bombed the image as I framed up. In fact I'll be actively looking for images that can place a subject in the time it was taken.

I've added a few of my instagram images here taken years back, note the older cars which are getting somewhat rare now.     

#battlesbridge pub, taken in March of 2007

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#deddington church, July 2007

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