Burton Constable Hall is a large country house, approximately 10 minutes drive from where I grew up. The Grade I listed, Elizabethan property that stands today, began its construction in the 1560s and is surrounded by 300 acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown.
If you were to visit the hall, you’d likely learn that it has been the seat of the Constable family for over 400 years. You’d probably marvel at the interiors decorated in original furniture and features from the 18th century and you may even discover that parts of the building date back much further to Medieval times.
It’s several years since I’ve wandered in its peaceful grounds and the last time I explored the rooms, everything was distinctly larger and taller, so it was lovely to return over the Easter holidays with my mum.
Yet, as elaborate and intricate as the ceilings, bedrooms and even the radiators were, the rooms ‘dressed’ in their original splendour were not the most interesting to me. All a little too ostentatious and gilded.
As an art form, I love photography. Along with preserving precious memories for generations, I also enjoy NOT knowing much about an image, preferring instead to make up my own stories about the subjects as if I’m stepping into a picture book – When was that taken? Why is that there? Who were they with?
I recently saw the 102 year-old images that were circling the internet, depicting a young girl on a Dorset beach, IN COLOUR! It was completely mind-blowing to me, not only that the technology existed (autochroming) but just how timeless the photos were. The images could easily be from a magazine shoot today, with the only suggestion of era coming from her swimsuit. If you’ve not seen them, they’re currently on display at the National Media Museum in Bradford, UK. Or have a look at how stunning they are here.
However, my favourite photographs have always been black and white images, in particular abstract and candid portraits. To me, the lack of colour adds far more to the strength of the image than it takes away. And I dabble in trying to create my own from time to time, beyond the normal holiday and family shots – but as you know, forever the faddist, I’ve never persevered in learning the skills to improve my part-time hobby. Instead, I lazily point and click and sometimes get lucky.
And for me that’s fine. I know my images will never be as polished or technically sound as someone who has had the patience and determination to learn the skills of the craft. But I like pottering around with my iPhone, taking them from wonky angles (to pretend to myself they look more professional) and then messing around with the contrast in a photo editor until I get an image I like. And art being subjective, sometimes others think they’re amazing, sometimes they think they’re aloada bobbins! (If I could link to the personal dictionary of my brain, you would see a definition of ‘a load of rubbish‘! 😉 )
My claim to fame is that several years ago I was shortlisted for amateur Digital Photographer of the Year. Out of around 10,000 entries, I reached the last 500 (I’m sure I tell friends it was the final 50!) It was such a boost to be nominated, as I sent in the image taken on a little Samsung point and shoot, on a whim. Patiently, I sat by waiting for the votes to roll in…Needless to say they didn’t (I got a few), being surrounded by far better quality, but it boosted me to keep going and made me realise that people outside of family and friends, who didn’t need to be polite, liked what I liked. And it means I can always pretend to myself that if I ever pinned down my ability to focus, I could have a major gallery exhibition one day!!
I’ve recently started following Abandoned America, showing the secret life of buildings locked off to the world, through the eyes of a lens. Urban exploring or urbexingcould become my next fad…although I don’t think I’m fit enough to be scaling fences or skulking behind walls for the sake of a perfect shot. I’m sure I’d be arrested the first time I tried anyway, even if I had public right of way, just for looking guilty! So this will probably be a back burner fad…
Until then, I’ll keep snapping away when I feel the urge and maybe stick some pics in a frame or load them on here. But most will be hidden away in computer files, perhaps to be discovered one day by someone who wants to make up their own picture book story.