Early one day last week the doorbell rang. I opened it to find a Canada Post delivery person holding a brown corrugated cardboard package that contained the two books from our trip to England this past summer. I grabbed a knife, carefully slit the paper tape that sealed up my latest creative endeavors, and peeled away the plastic that protected their glossy dust jackets. Flipping through the pages I made mental notes as such:
- The printing is very good.
- Some of the images are a little dark compared to my monitor. I need to re-calibrate it before doing another book.
- The standard paper is a little thin. Next time spring for the extra $5 for the premium paper option.
- Parts of the holiday stand out more than others because the photos do a better job of telling a story.
- Write a blog post about #4!
So here I am, a week later, with a spot of time between design projects, Christmas shopping and cookie baking. What better time, I thought, to write the first of a two part blog post about story telling.
Something I have slowly come to realize is that my best photos, or groups of photos, are the ones that tell a story. Whether the images are of people, places or things, the best ones are the ones that draw the viewer in and make them ask “What’s going on here?”. It’s not easy. I regularly fail at this because more often than not I see something I want to photograph, some interesting view, person or object, but I don’t take the time to ask myself what it is that has drawn me to it. When I do take the time to figure out what the main subject matter will be, and slow down the process of composing, I usually do better at making an image that tells a story.
Traveling with your family and doing activities like hiking a portion of the South West Coast Path in Cornwall over two days can make slowing down and taking time to compose images a little difficult. But this is where you can use a collection to tell a bigger story. Going through my second book on Cornwall and Devon two such stories stood out. The first I am presenting here was from that two day walk along the coast of Cornwall.
The strain of climbing and descending is easily overshadowed by the excitement of rounding a corner to a beautiful vista. We spent two days hiking a 22km section of the South West Coast Path from the artist town of St. Ives down to the small village of Pendeen. We began the trek early on a Wednesday morning in a misty drizzle. Locals assured us that no matter what the forecast was (10mm of rain) it would most likely not develop as the forecasters had been wrong all summer. Sadly that afternoon, as we watched puddles of water form around our feet on the floor of our B&B we were informed that it was the worst weather they had had all year.
Hiking in driving rain on slippery paths above steep cliffs can make you question your love of the outdoors. Trying to extract your camera from under your drenched rain jacket to grab a photo in said driving rain can make you question your need to have any documentation of the hike. I opted to pull the camera out in between the gust of wind and rain that first day, but as you can imagine, taking the time to carefully compose my images was just not going to happen. As we got closer to our destination of Zennor, the weather got worse, and so the camera came out less. To give you an idea of what it was like, Luca exclaimed that it felt like we had jumped into a swimming pool with all of our clothes and boots on, and then hiked 10 km.
Luckily for us our B&B allowed us to use their tumble dryer for a few hours to dry our hiking clothes, and better yet, there was a nice pub next door with good grub for our dinner that night.
We awoke the next morning to glorious sunshine. Our walk that day began with a stroll down a lane past a farm field where we had an amazing “Watership Down” moment watching about a hundred rabbits flee from the most beautiful bright red Fox I had ever seen. The lane ended at the edge of the coast line and we dropped down the bluff on the coastal path. That day every corner produced an amazing new view. We stopped for lunch atop a rock outcrop on a bluff that provided views of waves crashing on rocks up and down the coast. We met a small group of Cornish ponies grazing amongst some scrub and grass held in by ancient stone walls to one side and the cliffs to the other. The days hike ended with a long walk from a beautiful sand beach up into the town of Pendeen where we were fortunately staying close to another fine pub.
I am very happy with the collection of images I made over these two days. Individually several of them can stand on their own as a fine document of the Cornish coast, but I feel, at least to us, the collection of images tells a story of two of the best days of our trip to England. I hope they have told a story to you and perhaps have inspired you to visit this magical area one day.
Up next: Getting our History on.