I read once that the American comedian and film star Steve Martin likened his life to the moment when you sit on a chair, let it rock back, and try to find that moment where a couple of inches one way will bring you back to safety, and a couple of inches the other will lead to an undignified heap on the floor. I’ve always liked photographs which occupy the same territory. I like busy frames which tell of multiple stories, all of which have a harmonious relationship to each other, but yet if they were snapped a half second later would not be as pleasing, or as revealing of the culture they focus on. Bresson was of course the master of a balanced frame, but I’ve always had nagging doubts about whether or not his beautiful images were just him exercising his marvellous eye. Or perhaps it is just a cultural thing. I am English, and so perhaps that is why I am more drawn to Tony Ray Jones and Chris Steele Perkins, two photographers who track (and tracked) the English through their camera, often at the beach. I know the people in these images. Not literally, but it is no leap of imagination for me to be the man at the beach ignoring or unaware of the dog raising it’s leg and the noisy teenagers behind him. I also know of days out where the idea of going home early just because it is cold and the sky is grey would be unheard of.
So I think of these images often when I think of my land, especially as my England is now only one which I increasingly construct from images both imagined and real, as opposed to an England I live and breathe, as it was for the first twenty five years of my life. I have these images in mind when I am working too, and often look to make them at weddings, which I like shooting because people are often too busy having a good time to notice what I am up to. Or they should be, anyway. So it was at Briar and Dan’s recent wedding in Otaki, and the reception on Briar’s family property in Ohau. We did some group images, and then suddenly there was about four or five mini stories all happening at once. And I think I got it. But that’s the thing with me and photography. It’s never enough. But there’s nothing wrong with always looking for the next shot, especially when it keeps me from getting a real job.
Thanks then to Briar and Dan for the memories, and good luck to them with their life as man and wife. Thanks also for allowing me to share your wedding images here.