Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Portrait Element: Manningtree Sailing Club - David Shipley and Sid Smith

On Thursday 5th January, I visited Manningtree Sailing Club to photograph David Shipley - an ex-marine engineer now 18 years' retired. He is an acquaintance of my grandfather's, who is heavily involved with the club and all things nautical. We met at the Manningtree Sailing Club clubhouse, where, over  a couple of pints of Adnams, we discussed his history of sailing and involvement with the club. Below are a couple of examples of some digital work I produced on the day - as with the rest of my portrait sessions, I will not be able to process any of the films until I return to University (which is tomorrow, thankfully). Throughout this shoot I used  my Canon 450D DSLR and Olympus OM - 2n (35mm film), along with a Metz flashgun. 

David Shipley

Shipley was a keen sailor in the past, competing in numerous national and international races - the largest being the North Sea Passage race, which he entered a total of seven times and won twice. He also won the London Frostbite race three times - a race which takes competitors 32 miles along the River Thames, starting at Tower bridge and ending at Erith Yacht Club. His hay-day was cut short, however, due to the un-timely death of his friend during a boating race in Holland. Since then, Mr. Shipley has merely dabbled in sailing, buying and refurbishing a small fleet of traditional fishing boats and selling them. In between this and sporadic pheasant-shooting excursions, David has battled with cancer and is the full-time carer of his mother, who, regrettably, is otherwise incapable of looking after herself.       

David showing me a picture of his dingy on his mobile phone.

Sid Smith

Whilst photographing David, I took the opportunity to make some portraits of my Grandfather, Sidney Smith.  I have not as yet had the opportunity to undertake portraiture with a member of my family, and I found that the personal relationship made for far more successful and intimate portraits. Like David, my grandfather was, and still is, a keen sailor and an exceptional advocate of the Manningtree Sailing Club. 

Above are three of my favourite digital portraits from the day - in particular the middle and bottom portraits. I think that these are the most successful because they show the estuary map in the background - the Stour estuary being a huge part of Sid's life, which gives context to his extensive history and his love of the landscape. 

Sid posing next to his yacht

I am really happy with the results of this shoot, and I would like to carry out more photographic documentations of my family in the near future - the personal aspect of the subject matter created a very close emotional connection between me and the photographs, and a great sense of pride in the images. For now, however, I need to concentrate on my University projects at hand, which require me to deal with subjects who I am not familiar with.

Reading poetry


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