|CONTEMPLATION by Michéla Griffith|
In April 2016, somehow I came across the work of Michéla Griffith - I think it was through Twitter - it is absolutely beautiful but almost exclusively landscapes but I looked at these and I thought of the other great landscape photographers who had photographed me such as Al Brydon, Rob Hudson, Steve Segasby and Joe Wright and how well their photographs had worked out and so I thought that it was worth pursuing. In the message which I left on her website I did say that I appreciated that her work dealt mainly with landscapes but that it could be interesting to explore the techniques which she used and apply them to portraiture. She responded very quickly and said that she felt surprised, flattered and slightly intimidated. She added that she was thorough by nature and naturally cautious and therefore she would like to think the idea through before deciding but she went on to say that she was intrigued although she had no idea what, where and how and was there really anything that hadn't been done? She said that her themes were things easily overlooked, water and light, subject movement in nature and her own movement (or that of others) "through the landscape.....". That was exactly what I was looking for and that is exactly what I got.
Walking with ducks
She never mentioned again any doubts about actually taking the photographs and she sent through snippets of ideas all of which sounded fine. The thing is that, however intimidated she felt, I knew that, having seen evidence of her photographic skill online, she was going to produce some great images. So I looked forward to a day in Buxton starting off with lunch in a little French bistro quite close to the station recommended by Michéla. She met me off the train and we walked to the bistro I said that I had driven through Buxton some years ago and I tried to remember the name of the village where father-in-law and his brother had been evacuated during World War Two and which my wife and I had visited at the time. We chatted some more over a very pleasant lunch during which she told me how her work had progressed from being quite tight to the gloriously loose images which had first attracted me to her work. (What was the name of that village?) The ice was duly broken - in fact, Michéla is such a personable woman that the ice breaking was pretty much completed by the time we had reached the bistro - and she said that her idea was to walk around the Pavilion Garden. So off we went. (I still couldn't remember the name of that blooming village). We started off inside in the covered winter garden and Michéla asked me to walk to her and she took photographs of me on the move. But although it wasn't the best weather, it was perfect outside and so we began to wander around by the pond using the water as a back drop as well as the dark leaves on the trees. Hartington! That was the name of the village. We carried on and tried some arm waving (skip, skip, stride, together) and all the time, Michéla showed me the results in the back of the camera. My eyesight is not very good but the splodges of blurred colour looked wonderful.
A Young Man Inside
We continued round the pond for awhile and then she placed me against a white wall and asked me to move my head around in different directions. Michéla pointed out various buildings in our vicinity including the Opera House the decor of the lobby area of which was extraordinarily ornate but unfortunately there was a performance in the auditorium which apparently is even more magnificent. We had a cup of tea and chatted some more - Michéla really is a very interesting person to talk to - before we walked up to the Devonshire Dome which is part of the University of Derby and Buxton College and which was built in 1779. It is an amazing building but what really intrigued me was that if you stand in the middle of the huge area covered by the glass roof your conversation echoes around the whole building even if you speak in a whisper.Escaping Myself
I said to Michéla that she shouldn't hang around just to entertain me and that I had something to read whilst I waited for my train so we hugged and parted and I went and sat in the station and reflected on what I felt was a very successful day. The journey home was a long one but I felt it had been worth it. I felt it even more when I received the photographs from Michéla. They were exceptional; wonderfully free and painterly with incredible colour and movement and light. I wanted to like best one with flying ducks in it but in the end, there was no choice. I had to choose the one which Michéla had entitled "Contemplation".
It is a very simple shot - me against a sea of green - but that is too simple a description. Michéla has caught brilliantly the depth of the water and its movement and the different lights and shadows which play on its surface and also my movement into the scene. How can a moving picture be so still? How can a still picture move so much? And how lucky was I to have found Michéla?