In the spirit of creativity for this first exercise in the Fine Art Photography segment of the course, I have rather gone off brief. The poem I chose is not particularly famous but it is one that I have always found to be moving and visually inspiring and it ties in this year with the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
The exercise suggested that we create three images to illustrate the start, the main story and the end. At first I approached this very literally but the more I played with the images, the less that method appealed. I also did not want to get too caught up in Photoshop and heavy-handed composites involving stock images of guns or barbed wire.
My original plan was for:
- Image one – old man crying in the dark by a closed door
- Image two – distorted screaming man with army beret, possibly in sepia to indicate a PTSD type memory of the trenches
- Image three – blurred man staring out of the window to convey an emptiness
In the end I opted for an approach which just tried to capture the sadness and the horror.
The Secret Crier by Paul Birtill
The old man wept
sure the windows
were closed and
on the front door.
He had been caught
crying once before
in the trenches on
the Somme and had
with a .38 revolver…
It was quite difficult to choose a suitable font as typesetting back then would have been very basic. I tried Stencil but it came out looking a bit too M*A*S*H:
A simple typewriter font seemed about right but the black background may be too modern:
These are some of the other images I had considered but the did not quite reflect exactly the narrative I was aiming for.
My final selection
I am not fully satisfied with the outcome but cannot spend any more time on this.
I think the darkness of the images works well for this exercise. It provides a heavy sense of trauma but also of the secrecy. The old man is locked in but still vulnerable and we cannot see where are the edges of his safe environment. Although I prevaricated on this a lot, I am happy that the images do not have to show actual tears or a gun or a lock. The photographs are designed to work with the text of the poem and so can be much more subtle than if representing the whole narrative in isolation.