Taken in the attic room I lived in at the time, the only natural light came from a skylight in one part of the room and a small dormer window in another. It was quite cramped too – so the fact that the model, my friend looks relaxed, that the photo is fairly light and airy is almost a miracle.
This was taken around 1984 in a rented house in London. It’s one of three shots I took and as usual, because it was negative film, I had no idea if any of them would work. It’s easy to forget how different it was to take photographs without being able to instantly see them on the screen of a digital device. Added to that there was the fact that usually each roll of film had only 24 or 36 frames and once they were gone they were gone. The other difficulty was that I had to put the camera on a tripod, set the timer going, run up a few stairs, then lift myself up on the stair newels, make an interesting shape and then keep as still as possible.
There was just one boy in this class I photographed in the north of England in the early eighties. He was every bit as serious as the girls and the class itself was very strict. In several photographs I attempted to capture him entirely outnumbered by the girls. I think he was more aware of the camera than the girls – or perhaps while their role as ballerinas was a traditionally acceptable, even desirable one for the girls, in those pre-Billy Elliot days it was not the same for the boy. Having said that, I find that my eye goes again again to the girl at the front, for her elegance, self-possession and beauty.
Taken the same day as the picture in exhibit 95, this is one of the two friends who asked me to take their photographs. In several of the shots this young woman kept giggling – and as we were being very serious – several photographs show her unsuccessfully suppressing a laugh. One variation is below.
The shadow of my head has crept into the corner of this image – I must have stopped in my tracks at the sight of the fish head then quickly taken the picture not noticing my shadow. Or perhaps I did notice and deliberately included it. Whether accidental or not I like that it’s there – a trace of my presence as a long ago self.