Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reviewing my ongoing fishing boat based project and I’ve concluded that it isn’t going the way I want. I’m not unhappy with the images I’ve made, so far, I just feel that the photos aren’t connecting with people or conveying the story I have in my head. There are a few reasons for this, and if I’m honest, most of the issues I have are down to me.
From the start, I got an idea into my head as to how I want the images to look and what I want to convey. I want to show fishermen working in the extremes, which they do a lot of the time, but I still haven’t experienced that extremity…well, I have, I just haven’t photographed it.
Going out on deck, with a swell coming in looking like rows of terraced houses is scary, especially in the dark. This fear was made all the more acute after one fisherman warned me, “If you go overboard at night you may as well be in outer space because we’ll never find you…or you’ll be dead long before we do”.
The day after, the same fisherman launched an inflated carrier bag off the back of the boat, “If you go over, that’s all that would be visible above water…tell me when you can’t see it anymore”. I lost sight of the white bag within thirty seconds. That was in daylight.
Early death issues aside, I’m also starting to convince myself that for this project I’m limiting myself, creatively, by shooting solely on film. I know I’ve missed shots in the past because I’ve had the wrong film in the camera or been in a situation where I’ve got to the end of a roll and had to go and reload. I don’t ‘machine gun’ when using digital, however; it would be beneficial to have hundreds of chances, rather than just 36.
Finally, there’s a financial consideration; every roll of film I put through a camera costs me £15-20, taking into account the cost of the film, developing and scanning. The last two-week fishing boat outing I went on yielded 25 rolls of film, which for a trip of that length isn’t a considerable amount. Still, do the maths, and you’ll see it’s around £500 on top of all the other expenses.
So, the first problem is easily solved – I need to motivate myself to get out and stay out on deck when the sea gets a bit lumpy. And stop being lazy. The second issue, though less serious, is actually more difficult to solve – I feel as though I’d be ‘selling out’ by shooting digital but at the same time, am I restricting the outcome of the project by using film?