Exercise in Understanding

Last week was especially exciting and comprised part of an extraordinary ongoing project. It involved sleeping rough, running and getting quite wet – all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

What was most rewarding though, was the fantastically raw insight into the Guards regiment I ve been following for over half a year. The scarlet tunics and bearskin caps that had occupied all those months in camp and on the parade ground had been stripped away and all that remained were the gritty faces and battered uniforms of infantry soldiers – on exercise.

This abrupt aberration – from public duties to war-fighting – presented me with a problem. The matter of understanding these guys and their work had taken on another much more thought-provoking dimension not directly experienced before. Subsequently it has become increasingly more complicated to project what I deem to be an honest and just portrayal of blokes I’ve known and liked for nearly a year.

Fortunately the route taken to understand who or what you are photographing is often the most rewarding and the photographs become merely a by-product of that endeavour. In this case, I have embraced the venture and each new challenge is undertaken with vigorous determination – and an exceptionally open mind.

The selection of appropriate images is therefore one of the most challenging aspects of this project – and indeed any body of work. What seems appropriate presently will feel inadequate, inaccurate and unfair tomorrow as a more substantial understanding develops.

I ve chosen to omit the laughs, the giggles and the wry faces in favour of a more austere aesthetic; the lads were working hard and I’d never embarked on such an endeavour before. Appropriate now (at this very moment in time) is to portray the uncertainty and bewilderment of what I experienced with the immense efforts they exerted.

This post and the difficulties associated and discussed is really only a microcosm of the project at large and perhaps not immediately problematic to anyone who choses to read it. But, for me, it is significant and vexing!

Avoiding cliches is also quite the issue but I’ll leave that for now.

Soon I will put together an anti-austere collection of the austere. In fact, this is a post in flux. Prepare for changes, additions and subtractions.


Filed under freelance photographer, photography, photojournalism, reportage

4 responses to “Exercise in Understanding

  1. Pingback: Another Exercise in Understanding | Photography and George

  2. Pingback: And Another Exercise in Understanding | Photography and George

  3. Great series George. You’ve captured the intensity of the training really well.

  4. Love all the shots. Amazingly done.

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