I’ve been deliberating over this for a few weeks now, but I think it’s time I just come out and say it. I don’t think I’m going to be able to complete this 52-week project. Originally the project was supposed to be a way for me to explore Yorkshire, get to know some of the places a bit better, and come out at the end with some beautiful images and some even better stories. That hasn’t happened. The truth is, I don’t have nearly enough time or money to travel as I was hoping to do at the start of this project – this is why, as you might have noticed, 52 Weeks of Yorkshire quickly became 52 Weeks of York.
Some of the images started getting lackluster, and I began to lose the motivation. I think the problem I’ve had is that I don’t find this to be a compelling project anymore. I still find that I’m perfectly able to go out and create (what I consider to be) beautiful images that stand on their own, but I struggle to motivate myself to create images specifically for this project – this story – and I think the quality suffers as a result. At first my attitude was one of perseverance – it didn’t matter if the images were poor, so long as they were there. I’ve changed my mind on this. I want my work to be good. I don’t want to be creating images out of a sense of obligation – I want to make something because I love doing it, and I have to be in the right frame of mind for that. Sometimes I can create several images in one week, and sometimes it takes several weeks before I can create just one – but what matters is that I work at my own pace, and that I produce work when I’m ready. For this reason, I’m not sure a 52-week project, where I am compelled to create an image each week, will ever work for me.
However, I cannot ignore the benefit of being forced to sit down, if only for half an hour, and figure out what I am going to write about that week. For that reason, I want to start a weekly journal on this blog. Every week, probably at the weekend, I will share my thoughts about whatever has been on my mind that week. At times 52 Weeks of Yorkshire played that role, and that was one of my favourite things about it, so I would like to carry that element on. These journal entries will give me a chance to write about my thoughts without any obligation to produce work, and they will give you a chance to follow along with me week-by-week as I make the journey to improve my skills and to hone my art. I look forward to it.
I love walking through York at night. Like any place, it takes on a completely different character when the streets are devoid of life, ensnared in darkness. I’m drawn to this side of the city, as you can probably tell from my work with Ghosts. There’s a beautiful calm to the streets of York at night, and sometimes, when life is hectic and your mind is overwhelmed, there’s nothing better than a late-night stroll.
I’m still catching up – it’s now week 33, which puts me 5 weeks behind after these images. Nonetheless, I’m committed to producing a photo for every week (with the exceptions of those weeks that I’ve previously talked about), even if these images are taken long after the weeks for which they were intended.
This first image brings us to York City Walls. These walls surround the medieval city, and have stood for centuries. One of my fascinations, both with regards to photography, and in general, is with the monuments left behind by our ancestors. Sometimes these monuments are intended as such, like the Minster, but these walls were never intended to inspire awe in future generations – or at least, that wasn’t their main purpose – but to defend the city from attack. It’s rare that you get to walk the circumference of a centuries-old structure, still as stable today as it was when it was built.
This second image comes from the grounds of the Church of St Lawrence. Many people know of York Minster, but York has plenty of other churches dotted around, each with its own story. There has been a church on this site as early as the 12th Century, although the current church is more recent. The current church is the second-largest religious building in York, which, given the size of the Minster, is impressive. I can’t say I’m particularly religious, but part of me is thankful to those who are for providing us with such beautiful monuments. They would say it is a monument to God, but I am more inclined to say it’s a monument to the beauty that we human beings can create.
A lot has happened in the last month. If you’re wondering where 52 Weeks of Yorkshire had gone, it was probably hiding in between a house move, a new job, and a week-long trip to Cambridge, the photos from which I have on three rolls of 120 film somewhere in my bedroom. I’m back now, the job is going well, and my house is actually clean, so I can begin to catch up on the stuff I’ve missed.
These first two images come from my home town of Skipton.
This is the view from the top of the moor in Skipton, looking out across the Yorkshire Dales. I grew up with this view, and I still feel, even after two years of living in York, that the Dales are my home. It’s a place that has been featured in images from this 52-week project before, but I come here so much that it deserves the attention it gets.
I have photographed these cairns many times, as some of you will know. They are special to me. This is a place where I am well and truly alone. You cannot hear the sound of cars rushing past the window, or of people shouting in the streets. It is a contemplative place, and I hope my photography reflects that.
This week I’m down by the river again. I love coming here, and so it’s fitting that it should feature more than once in my 52-week-project, especially seeing as this is becoming far more personal than I’d originally intended. I’m less than halfway through, so I have plenty of time to explore the county of Yorkshire, but for now I’m giving you an insight into myself and my photography.
To me, photography is about revisiting the places I love. Each time I go somewhere, I get to know it a bit better. The photography becomes an ongoing conversation between myself and a place, rather than simply a set of images. Occasionally, I visit one of these places and find something new, exciting, and truly beautiful, and it is those moments that I live for.
This one is a bit late. It’s Wednesday of week 23, and I got so caught up in celebrating the end of exams last week that I didn’t get a chance to submit week 22’s image, so there are going to be two images for 52 Weeks of Yorkshire this week!
The weather this week has been miserable. It hasn’t stopped raining since Monday morning, and it’s been frustrating not being able to go out on the few days I have free this week. Last night I finally gave up, and left as it was getting dark. Campus was completely empty, the rain having forced everyone inside. The university has a very different atmosphere when there are no students to be seen.
I have my first exam tomorrow. For two weeks I won’t really be able to spare the time to do any photography. I might be able to shoot the odd image here and there, but I certainly won’t be able to contribute anything to 52 Weeks of Yorkshire, or any of my other ongoing projects. For this reason, weeks 19, 20, and 21 of the project will be missing. I’ll resume again in week 22.
In the meantime, I don’t want complete radio silence on this blog. Instead, I’m planning a couple of posts that will explore topics relating to photography, but not necessarily looking at any of my images. The first of these will be a book review – I’ll leave you in suspense as to what the book is!
A few days ago I decided to get up at 4am to try and catch the sunrise at Clifford’s Tower in York.
This tower is the keep of a medieval Norman castle in York, first built during the 11th century, following the Norman conquest of York. The castle was built during an uprising from the local population, as houses were destroyed to make way for the new construction. The castle was seen as a major security asset in the North, playing a key role in many conflicts over several centuries.
Most of the castle is gone now, with only the keep remaining. This building, now archaic by the standards of modern architecture, stood the test of time and now remains to remind us of our past. There are plans to add a visitor’s centre to the base of the hill, but I think this would be a mistake. The surrounding area has already been cleared of its ancestry to make way for modernity, but we should strive to preserve at least some of our history in as pure a form as we can.
Exam season is here, and so I find myself with very little time for photography. I want to keep up my commitment to this project though, so here is this week’s image. I find myself focusing less and less on the actual images and more on the story behind them, as though this is a kind of photographic journal.
This week’s image comes to you from a night walk. Sometimes I like to walk at night, just before I go to bed, because it gives me a chance to leave the house and collect my thoughts. I didn’t go very far, but came across a bench sitting empty in a park, with a single bottle of beer by the side.
This bench intrigues me because it prompts so many questions. Who sat here, and why were they drinking alone in a park? How long has that bottle been there? Did its owner leave just before I arrived, or was it left the night before, with noone bothering to pick it up? The most important images prompt questions. Not in an obvious, photo-journalistic sense, but in the sense of providing intrigue – forcing you to study the image until you get to know it like you would a person.
This is Salt’s Mill in Saltaire, England. It was built in 1853 by Titus Salt, a British manufacturer, well-known for his creation of alpaca cloth, which became fashionable in 19th-century England. The textiles industry was important to Yorkshire, and the county was at the heart of the industrial revolution, an event without which we would not have the modern world we live in today.
In today’s world, however, the machines of the industrial era have given way to automated assembly lines, and there is no need for places like this any more. The textile machines of Salt’s Mill have been replaced by office space and an art gallery, and time marches ever forwards. Places like this are important, as they serve as reminders of our past, with both the good and the bad. We need to remember the past, for without it there is no way to see the future.