There are certain landscapes that stick with you, places you've visited, or been drawn to. 11 Years ago I worked on a documentary film which was shot in this baron landscape right on the edge of the kent coastline, it was Dungeness that I've spent years since, thinking about, visiting, documenting myself. Since that Documentary, I've shot a short film of my own; 'And yet, they still look to the sky...' starring Princess Julia, and created in a single day, out of season in 2011, quite a few months pregnant, I pulled a skeleton crew together, all females, and we drove from the East End to the edge of the world and shot a mixed medium palette of 35mm and Super 8mm Kodak Colour, of which I then worked on from home, starting with the degrading and hand-processesing I'd become accustomed to, with the addition of some 16mm animation. The film became a video-poem almost, less poetic and more of a message of outreach, I remember studying the feeling of loneliness and personal belonging, and Dungeness embodied all these things. The film went on to play the London Short Film Festival and many short film events in the capital throughout the past ten years.
Time goes on, and moving to Norfolk meant I hadn't visited for a number of years, I'd almost ruled a line beneath the place, it had been done. It wasn't until my birthday this year, a big one, (it's been a pretty big year in many ways), and I hadn't really planned anything. It's a good job Brandon can sense my incoming regret and booked something in advance... a surprise of sorts. Driving further and further south; Brighton maybe? I like Brighton. And then a few hours in I spot Dover, Folkestone... Romney! “WE'RE GOING TO DUNGENESS!”
“I might need to order some more film.”
Instant excitement, and all these projects and thoughts of the past came flooded back with a new visit. 11 years since my first, a diary of images over-flowing, so I was keen to visit with the boys and spend a few days exploring, and finding spots I hadn't seen before. I wanted to pack fairly light, but any planned trip is met with the bane of my life – kit packing and format decisions. I narrowed it down to the following;
1x Video 8 (for moving image of course). 1 tape.
1x Medium Format. Sq format. 8 rolls. 2 BW. (I shot about 4 1/2)
1x Polaroid. 600 Colour Film. No occasion is complete without a Polaroid.
1x Fuji Instax. A few rolls of colour, I see these as pure snaps, nothing to worry about kind of pics.
1x Fujifilm XT3. 3 lenses and a bunch of cards.
Dungeness gives the opportunity of looking great no matter the weather, as good gloomy and windswept as it does in the bright heights of summer. There's the usual tourist spots, unfortunately Derek Jarman's is on that list. I heard a lady in the lighthouse say she NEEDED to see the garden of the famous artist, but she didn't know his name, and there are many distinct gardens and art-sheds along the main route. This time round I was keen to snap the details, the sea lettuce, these strange habitat pods covering the shingle. I spent a lot of time at ground level (when the 169 steps of the Old Lighthouse weren't calling).
The XT3 gave a great opportunity of going wide. I was caught up with capturing the moving portrait, giving action in the still image. You'll see a lot of intentional blur, walking, the hint of motion for effect. The twin lens Mamiya is my go-to when it comes to depth, I shot a lot of detailed foreground / or alternate backgrounds in squares, particularly playing with the alien, the unusual, with the hint of situated truth somewhere in the image (a blurred silhouette of the lookout tower or power plant) to bring you back to earth.
Individually, all these images work. But it's not until I return home, and look at it all as a collection. (Along with the moving image) it all makes sense, and truly documents the trip. Instax layouts, Polaroid scans and prints all count...
Not much changes in Dungeness, and I hope the same paths are woven into the shingle in another 11 years time. Follow my Foto-Diary.