Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and the author of You Will be Able to Take Great Photos by The End of This Book.
Working on long-form projects is something I talk about a lot in this column. Last time, I wrote about an ongoing black-and-white project on trees in the urban environment. This time, I wanted to examine another project – it’s based on my travels, although I don’t consider it a travel photography project. I even have a working title: In Between.
I’m fortunate to travel the world talking about the art and craft of photography on cruise ships, which gives me a level of access that is the stuff of dreams. Calling the project ‘In Between’ alludes to the nature of that travel. I’m neither crew nor a fully fledged guest, and never in one place for long – more often than not, only a few hours, followed by long days at sea. So the work is evolving to be more autobiographical, more about my impressions and my sense of place than about informative destination imagery.
Travelling in this capacity, I slipstream into some kind of parallel universe between the various ‘worlds’ I inhabit. And this, in turn, informs my picture-making. The short stops in ports can be restrictive and riddled with frustration, however, I’ve come to embrace and even feed off the enforced boundaries. In Between is a travelog of sorts, a snapshot of the world, seen as fleeting encounters with various countries, cultures and characters. It’s not the slick, commercial-type vistas that inspire me, but rather the quiet little corners and the people I briefly encounter.
This pair of images, taken in Barbados, speaks to the essence of my fleeting encounter with the tropical island. Working with diptychs allows me to pair images and create resonance and alternative meanings. These two images are harmonized by their color, and work well together.
Having a working title and some sort of creative framework to work within help the project evolve. Maybe it could culminate in a small book, exhibition or zine.
• Other articles in the Art of Seeing series