Some 21 years ago I was in a relationship where we both, for various reasons, wanted to run away from everything we knew.
Our dream took various forms, including a log cabin in Alaska or British Columbia, and a similarly remote beach side shack.
A common “vision within the vision” was simply sitting together outside around a bonfire in the evening, talking and dreaming, with no-one else around.
One evening we were walking across hilltops at dusk, somewhere fairly remote for Sussex, and stumbled across the embers of a bonfire. With a little encouragement and extra fuel we got it crackling more enthusiastically again, and sat around it, talking and dreaming, with no-one else around.
It dawned on us that evening that our dream was closer than we thought – we didn’t need to run away thousands of miles from home to make these precious moments happen.
From then on it came somewhat symbolic for us. We recreated the experience with simple bonfires at home (usually with a barbecue or chiminea) and learned to make other versions of our own dreams, wherever we were.
But what has this got to do with my photography today?
Well, recently I’ve been experimenting with prints of my photographs, really for the first time ever.
I’ve found a combination I really like – 8 x 6 inch black and white prints in 12 x 10 inch black frames, with a frame insert.
The first photo I printed and framed looked great like this, but I still didn’t quite know what to do with it.
I considered (and am still considering) a photo book, but haven’t yet got past the self indulgence of the idea (in my eyes).
I thought about digital frames where I could rotate recent images, as this has worked very well with family photos recently. But after getting prints made, I knew that was the route I wanted to take.
Then another memory from my past came to me.
The first photographer I really studied in any depth was Alfred Stieglitz, maybe five years ago. His photographs impressed me, but perhaps even more than this, I was inspired by just how much he did to promote photography (and art generally) in the early 20th century.
Central to this was his formation of a gallery known originally as Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession then renamed simply as 291, from its address, 291 Fifth Avenue, New York.
The idea of a “little gallery” suddenly sparked an idea. I would turn a room of our house into a little gallery of my own, rather than have odd photos here and there in different rooms.
We’re fortunate to have a main bathroom upstairs and a second WC downstairs. It’s this second room that seemed obvious for the gallery, to be called Woods Gallery 04, based on our address.
It’s a work in progress.
I have five prints framed and hung, but one frame I’m not sure of and want to replace with two more of the 12 x 10 inch frames.
It’ll be interesting to hear any comments from guests (though we don’t have many!) and just how it feels getting used to having a room full of my work. And how often I’ll want to rotate the images and replace them with new prints.
As with the hilltop bonfire two decades ago, I reminded that though I may not have a grand exhibition seen by thousands, I have my own little gallery, my own version of a dream.
For me, ever fiercely private and reclusive, this is quite a step.
Just as importantly it’s a reminder that our dreams are usually much closer than we imagine. We just have to find ways to make them happen, one small step at a time, and enjoy every moment we have along the way.
Do you have any of your own prints around your home (or indeed anyone else’s home)? What dreams do you have for your photography?
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.