• Richard Reader

Swanscombe - the calm before...

May has been a month of preparation. There's the impending trip to Iceland with it's attendant panics over needing this or needing that; there's the Medway Open Studio (nothing done yet except for application, and a bit of thought); there's another exhibition in September (even less done there!); a wedding in October (which requires a bit of practice shooting during June); the Iceland Exhibition in December (nothing can be done...). Lots of things occurring, lots of thinking and planning, but not much actual 'doing'.

Which isn't to say that there hasn't been any actual shooting; there has but it's been for me, or because I've gone out with a friend and fellow 'tog for the pleasure of going somewhere just to shoot for ourselves. And I think this is important.

We can become a bit too wound up in doing photography because we think there has to be a clear objective for doing so. The exhibitions mentioned above - they'll all require photographs to be shot for them. That's new work, not something I was doing a year or two years ago. I'll have to go out with the intention of shooting for the exhibition, I'll have to carry out post-production with a final print in mind, and then plan framing, hanging etc.

The wedding, already that has involved a 'site visit' to see the venue, conversations and emails with bride and groom. Looking out for summer firework displays to try new techniques before the big day.

Sometimes it's just good to get out with no objective or need in mind and just do photography for the sheer joy of it - even if it means getting wet. Which brings me to this small series taken on Swanscombe Marsh, a small area between Dartford and Gravesend in Kent, bordering the Thames. It was a bit wet but my friend and fellow 'tog Nikki and I plodded out there with no aims in mind except to see what we could find.

It's true. Bad weather makes for some good photography. I came away with a few shots that I find quite pleasing. They might even make an exhibition at some point soon. But more importantly for me is that they represent a record of a particular part of Kent that might not exist in just a few years time. Planning permission has been sought to build a large theme park on the marsh. Yup, all this could go to make way for film themed fun rides courtesy of Paramount Studios.

Of course, there's always been some industry on the marsh: cement works, sewerage plant, a bit of land fill. And it hosts a fine collection of electricity pylons. But the industry ha retreated in recent years and now the place is home to a wide range of birds and other wildlife.

So, taking photos for no other reason that enjoying photography is a good thing. There doesn't have to be an aim, an ulterior purpose set before the trip. However it sometimes transpires that those photos might just have some other value, as a record of something transitory.

#swanscombe #kent #marsh #thames


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