One of the great things about social media is the opportunity it gives us to get to know new people - people who inspire us through their work and, if we're lucky enough to meet them, enrich us through their friendship.
Good things are for sharing and so I'd like to start an occasional series where I introduce you to some people who I think are special for one reason or another. Some you'll know and some you won't. Either way, I hope you find it interesting. It won't be a long Q&A sort of thing. Instead, I will borrow from BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs and ask folk to share the eight pictures of theirs that they'd take with them to a desert island, along with the reasons why. The idea is that we get to enjoy some wonderful pictures and also sneak a peek into the minds of some special people, giving us a glimpse of what makes them tick.
So this is their platform to say as much or as little as they wish. They might choose to share their favourite pictures but then again they might not. Whatever they present though, they will be pictures that are special to them. It is their little collection.
So the first guest of the series I'll call Potpourri is Valda Bailey.
I first got to know Valda in the Twittersphere, where she uses her profile to claim a “lamentably scattergun approach to photography”. I can’t believe that’s true but it does give you a sense of her modesty. Spend some time on her site or take a wander through her Flickr pages and I dare you not to be entranced by the the world as she sees it. She is one of the best proponents of camera techniques known as intentional camera movement and multiple exposure that I’ve ever come across, using them to create a panoply of dreams. One of my favourite quotes is by Emily Dickinson: "Ignite the imagination and light the slow fuse of the possible". This is what Valda does time after time after time and so I couldn’t be happier to be launching Potpourri with Valda as the featured photographer.
"I think this is a wonderful idea for a series and I would like to thank you for the honour of being featured. My idea of which of my images have merit changes on a regular basis, however I have tried to select a few which still hold appeal several weeks or months after they were taken. I don’t know if I would necessarily elect to live with any of these images on a desert island - my preference would be for the work of other people!
"I was lucky enough to visit Namibia earlier this year - it is such a beautiful country and many iconic photographs exist of its well known attractions. Although I don’t deliberately set out to produce something different to what has been done before, coming back with a bunch of shots that are little more than a poor imitation of postcard images of the area holds little appeal. The image below was taken during an 8 hour drive through the desert - I like the minimalism, the colours and the lines, but most of all I like the paint-daub effect of the pink on the distant horizon. This is often a consequence of shooting multiple exposures in bright sunlight and for me helps conjure up the memory of the searing heat shimmering in the distance."
"I spent five days in the Cairngorms on a Doug Chinnery workshop in February and this is one of the images that still pleases me. I got up at the crack of dawn, full of excitement on the first morning and dashed out to shoot the sunrise. It quickly became apparent that it wasn’t going to happen. Instead there was a low mist and fine drizzle so I set off towards these trees and stood there in blissful solitude for about 40 minutes trying to capture their dark and quiet beauty. This is not obviously a multiple exposure image - I think it was 4 or 5 images blended together in camera with very little camera movement."
"Another one from Scotland - this one very clearly displaying ICM and evidence of multiple exposure. I like the overwhelming sense of ‘weather’ I get from this. The low mist and the dancing light on the loch together with the subtle colours are what appeal to me. It’s also a very abstract image - a direction I find myself increasingly drawn to."
"A riot of shape and colour. I was in Hove with a fellow photographer (literally a Fellow - the super-talented Sue Brown FRPS) and came across this row of beach huts. The usual depiction of rows of coloured doors has been done so often it verges on cliche and I was desperately trying to find something new to say about them. Down the steps and around the back of the huts there is a skateboard park with a wonderfully colourful wall painted with all manner of graffiti. I started taking some images, moving the camera around, superimposing colour upon colour, shape upon shape and after a lot of false starts, managed to find a way to get them to work for me. Photographing other people’s artwork is definitely something that must be approached with caution in my opinion - a straightforward representation is completely pointless and lazy.
"I have been back since and managed to get a couple of sets of images out of the visits but I really do need to return and spend a lot more time there. I like the colours against the dark sky together with the pleasing movement of the boat which seems to reinforce the seaside ambience."
"This was taken at Ardingly Reservoir when I was out on the annual bluebell hunt. The soft Monet-inspired shapes and colours appeal, as does the golden light at the top of the image. Again, an image of very abstract shapes - I quite like the painterly - for want of a better word - effect of the light on the water and the ambiguous shapes upon it. In true Monet style, they are in fact, waterlilies."
"When I was young I wanted to be a graphic designer and had a small degree of success as a cartoonist. I spent hours and hours drawing - I guess that possibly explains why I am attracted to images with a strong graphic element. This was taken outside Tate Modern after I had been to see ‘The Cut Outs’ exhibition by Matisse. I was inspired by what I had just seen so I started playing around with the colourful notice boards on the side of the gallery which were advertising the exhibition. I messed around with the colours in Lightroom until I found a combination that pleased me. This is very much the type of image that doesn’t much appeal on Flickr I think - its lukewarm reception (at time of writing) made me start to question what I’m doing and precipitated a mini artistic crisis. But I do like the image - the shapes, textures and particularly the colours, together with the play on the theme of the exhibition. I just need to accept that it’s the type of image that doesn’t receive much support."
"This is an image I haven’t got around to doing much with - it was taken in France last year on a very windy day - there were grasses or shrubs in front of the this house and I moved the camera around trying to convey the strength of the elements. I like the movement in the foreground and the pale yellow light coming from behind the property. There’s a sense of the permanence of the building despite the force of Mother Nature."
"More beach hut action - and another image that I suspect would not gather too much acclaim on social media. The same qualities please me - the graphic nature, the colour palette, the sketchy outlines of the block of flats behind superimposed upon the white painted doors and not least, the wonderful trickle of colour from the rusting bolt."