Yesterday was a hugely productive day. My new camera and lens were both taken for a spin, proper.
Again, these photos form part of an ongoing project that has now entered its second year.
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.
A few weeks back I spent one day and night at Wallett’s Court, a luxury spa hotel sat, perched upon the white cliffs of the Kent coast. It is the most wonderful and necessary setting often forgotten amongst the concrete streets and plastic houses of London – and any other city for that matter. A short train journey and all immediate concerns are detached, removed and then left at the gates to this 300 year old cottage. Super.
The intention of my visit was to write and photograph a food feature for The Weekender, a Kent based freemium. Wallett’s Court offers foraging courses and it was to be a day out rummaging through the ‘garden of England’, clay pigeon shooting and ‘tasting’ – as well as the jacuzzi, sauna and enormous wide-screen TV in my room.
It was, however, still mid-February, blowing a gale, and a little nippy. There wasn’t too much to forage either.
That said, Spring and Summer are the best seasons to get out and by all accounts extraordinarily fruitful.
I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys walking – and then eating.
Ancient Roman pottery is found everywhere. The many years of ploughing have turned it out of the ground where it can easily be seen
Hedges like this offer great foraging opportunities - once you've been told what to look for!
Gavin Oakley, the owner of Wallett's Court
Smoked and pressed pork belly with black pig black pudding