Saturday, 10 May 2008

On the Road

In my general day to day life I don't do a lot of driving. I live about fifteen minutes from my mother's house where I've worked for the last few years. Obviously I'm delighted not to have the terrible drag into the city which I see every morning coming towards me as I zoom out to the south (obviously obeying all speed limits!). So that's nice. But I love driving and seeing the bizarre stuff on the roadside which I love to photograph.

Two of my favourite photography projects which have been on the go for a while are road based. The first is my Birthday Banners series. These are quite rare sightings and actually seem to be getting less and less for some reason. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a couple of examples:

Gary Capstick

Happy Birthday Jambo

It's amazing how much work goes into some of them and others are no more than a daub of paint. I often wonder what it would feel like to come across a banner directed at you on your way to work on your birthday morning!

The other roadside project on the go at the moment is the Roadside Cafes. This is in some ways easier and harder. Easier as I know the type of location where I'll find my quarry, harder because they are really quite tricky to photograph. Tricky because first you have to see the cafe before you shoot past the layby, then there has to be enough distance infront of the cafe to fit it all in frame. Even with a wide angle lens that isn't always the case if there's a dip or a rise. Then there's the shade cast by the flap opening which means I have to use a flash so that there's enough light inside to even see what's going on. Then you actually have to engage with people. Ask permission, get them to pose, ask questions and finally, get them to sign a model release form. Actually I've decided against the release form now as I'm only representing the people as themselves so there shouldn't be a problem and when I start to talk to them I tell them that the pictures are destined for a book and will be on my website. So they do know how their images will be used.


Out to Lunch

All of this is hard if you don't really drive anywhere. I've got the majority of these shots while I've been out with my mother doing work related journeys, we cover hundreds of miles and our journey is often broken up by me leaping out of the car, buying a bad cup of tea and snapping away for a few minutes. I won't be working with mum for much longer as she's retiring, so I'll be taking to the road all on my own to search out my subjects. I won't be making any money and it has occurred to me to be concerned about the cost of petrol which seems to be rising up and up and up here in the UK. I appreciate that I have a tiny and economical car, but it would be nice to save on the expense, and, drum roll please, I have found a way to do just this. The very kind and thoughtful people over at Get Free Petrol are offering you a handy £30 off petrol from Sainsbury's. That amount would fill my little tank. All you need to do is register on the site and pick one of the deals on the site and get two friends to do the same. How easy is that. You can do it as many times as you like. Or until you've run out of friends.

So for me to carry on with my road-based quest, I'll certainly sign up and do some free driving.

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