Monday, March 19, 2012

One Pin, Two Views 1 : Where To Start


At some point last year, Jennyfreckles of the blog Salt and Light and I started to discuss, via comments on each others' blogs, how different photographers approach the same location. As we live only a few miles away from each other we often find that we are taking photographs of places the other has featured on their blog and we became intrigued by the different approach two people might take to the same set of stones, hills, mills and moors. And so we came up with a game (or an exercise, or a project) to investigate this phonomenon. We would stick a pin in a local map until we came up with a village that neither of us was familiar with and then each of us, independently, would visit the village and put together a small portfolio of photographs. This is not a competition (if you are familiar with Jennyfreckles'  work you will know that I could never win such a competition) but a way of assessing how much of what a photographer sees is, in fact, a reflection of themselves. We have decided to publish a selection of our photographs of the West Yorkshire village of Thornton (the place where the pin came to rest) over the next week. I have no idea what images Jenny is going to come up with, but I will be very intrigued to find out.


Where does one start? I suppose one could start with the famous bit of Thornton which is the house where the Bronte sisters were born before the family moved a few miles up the road to Haworth. Or one could feature the beautifully curvaceous Thornton railway viaduct which crosses the valley like an ancient relic: sans trains, sans rails, sans everything. But what really struck me about the village of Thornton, which is only two or three miles from the centre of busy metropolitan Bradford, was the way the little streets of old stone terraced houses threaded up the side of the valley, linking nothing with nowhere, pasture with moorland. I can't remember the name of this little street, but if you Photoshopped out the two cars and drained the shot of colour, it could have been taken at any point during the twentieth century.

This experiment of ours is about our own personal interaction between a place and ourselves, and this, I suppose, makes it an exercise in psychogeography. So this was my first interaction, the first point where I felt compelled to press the shutter and capture Thornton through my eyes. Which makes it a very good place to start.

NOW YOU HAVE READ THIS, GO ON OVER TO SALT AND LIGHT TO SEE THORNTON THROUGH JENNYFRECKLES' EYES.

22 comments:

  1. Hello Alan:
    What a fascinating and intriguing idea and the results of the 'experiment' will, as you say, be interesting to see. Your own photograph of Thornton is most atmospheric and captures a sense of the timelessness of this small Yorkshire village.

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  2. I'm going to be glued to your unfolding experiment. This is blogging at its best.

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  3. I saw your photo and I thought:'Yes!' This is Thornton to a T. As you say, give or take the odd satellite dish and the cars, it could have been taken anytime in the last 100 years. It's also a very 'Alan' photo to me - seeing, in the ordinary, what most of us overlook in search of more immediately photogenic subjects. And yet in this picture you tell a whole story. I am so looking forward to the rest of this project.

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  4. Hi Alan .. fascinating that you've taken two completely different aspects of life - and as Jenny says above - so you. Me too - looking forward to more .. and your different takes on Thornton .. cheers Hilary

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  5. Alan, what an interesting project. Good, that it is not a contest, because all pictures have a certain merit and it is also in the eye of the beholder. I also think in a contest the photos sort of lose their spontaneity. Your photo here is excellent, it really could be from a much earlier time, the street is not paved, the crooked sidewalk, is this really England?

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  6. Washing in the 'front yard'; like it.

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  7. I was thinking take out the cars (wouldn't it be nice if we could go and ask people to move them in the first place ;)) and b&w and you're way back before I read down that far. Definitely a capture of the past here, especially with the untarmac-ed road and the washing on the line. I like it a lot.

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  8. Fascinating 'project', Alan which I shall follow with interest. The washing on the line at the front of the house makes you wonder how much land they have at the back.

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  9. This looks to be an interesting experiment! I agree with your assessment of the shot - Thornton looks to be a sort of ageless place despite some modern intrusions. Good work!

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  10. You don't really work for Google Street View, do you?

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  11. Oh, I'm going to enjoy watching this progress.

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  12. Dear Alan and jennyfreckles, I do hope you took all of your photos before seeing the work of the other. I'm afraid that if I got involved I would be influenced by what you each are taking and would either copy or purposely avoid. Both are excellent, by the way, and I look forward to the rest of the series. Jim

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  13. Intriguing. And a good project. I will look forward to seeing more.

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  14. I love this idea! It will be so interesting to see what you two come up with. This photo is great. Personally, I like the cars and the hanging laundry as they give a sense of people living within the houses. Once again, another perspective.

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  15. This is a great project. Jenny has also directed me to your blog which I have been surfing and find very interesting. The Thornton street does look like a shot out of the last century(early) It looks tatty but with character. I'm looking forward to the rest of the photos from you two.

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  16. The street isn't even paved and the washing is dry!

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  17. This sounds wonderful, Alan. I await your discoveries with excitement and have a new blog to check out in the bargain. Thanks!

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  18. Interesting project, it will be fun to see how it all plays out! :)

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  19. A terrific conceptual art project! If your photo had a few children staring at the camera and a couple of wagons instead of cars AND it was in sepia tone, it would be a perfect Edwardian era postcard.

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  20. This is going to be fun!

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  21. What a fascinating idea. I'm catching up and will follow the rest with interest!

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  22. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Thornton through your lens Alan and especially enjoyed your take of it in your commentary. ~Lili

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