The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that photographs and words belong together. A good photograph will work very well on its own, but it works because it triggers emotions in us, and since Man is a talking animal, we express our emotions in words.

This thought occured to me yet again while I was browsing through the book Seaside Polaroids. This book is a collection of Polaroids taken by UK sports and documentary photographer Jon Nicholson on a journey around the coast of England.

Many of the images in this book are striking storytelling shots.

There are several shots of funfairs and amusement parks. The faded Polaroid look of these images enhances the atmosphere of dilapidated nostalgia brought on by subjects such as riderless merry-go-round horses, letters on a roof reading “JOYLAND” with the L broken, a stowed-away collection of signs for the “Fun Park” and empty spaces with no people. The story here is all about what happened to make these places, so clearly constructed with amusement in mind, into something so nostalgic and almost sad-looking?

Then there are the nature shots, some of which talk to me about how vast and dangerous the ocean is and how fragile our human life on the coast.

In addition to the storytelling, there are compositional lessons to be learned here. I was especially struck by how Nicholson shows to great effect the beauty of negative space and how well the square Polaroid format will handle symmetry and a centered subject.

When I went looking for examples of my own Polaroid work to illustrate this, I couldn’t find a single example of a centered subject, so clearly that’s something to think about on my upcoming travels with my Polaroid camera. I did however find a couple of images I had quite forgotten, which show the beauty of negative space on expired Polaroid film:


The image below is shot through my living room window. I look out on this view while I write this post, and it occured to me that it lends itself well to illustrate how fun it can be to play with symmetry. This image also shows that this type of composition requires more careful attention to getting the lines straight than I managed here! britishseaside-symmetry-jennygr

What are you reading during the summer months, photography-related or otherwise? Tell us in the comments!

~ All the best from Jenny.