Valda Bailey

Valda Bailey

Nationality: UK
 

Artist's Statement:

 

We all come to photography with different objectives. For many, it has much to do with the thrill of the chase - climbing the highest peak or waiting for hours in challenging conditions until the clouds part and light changes. For some, part of the appeal is gathering together a carefully chosen (and meticulously maintained) assemblage of filters, tripods, light meters, maps, apps and other sundries before setting out. Others enjoy the camaraderie, competition and conviviality of the weekly camera club meet.

 My own objective when taking photographs is rooted in my training as a painter. The causal deployment of the brush that says so much with such apparent ease is something I have always found extremely compelling.  It could be argued that I’m setting myself up for failure before I even begin by trying to make a photograph that is more like a painting as the hand of the artist is always going to be missing but I press on regardless.

 The time I have available to me to get out with my camera varies but it almost never coincides with a high tide or perfect light. I tend to set off with as little equipment as possible and even less of an idea about what I am going to capture.

 When I find a likely looking place to stop I tend to shoot off a dozen or so frames pretty quickly to give me a vague idea of how the light falls and how the colours are being rendered. Sitting there for twenty minutes or so messing around with multiple exposure options, camera movement, white balance variations and the like allows me to collect my thoughts and, hopefully, for a relationship with my surroundings to start to develop. If the day is going well, I get a vague idea of what it is about the place that I would like to convey and I then set off to find an arrangement of shapes, colours or tones that will allow me to develop this inner monologue.

 My influences are many and varied. I look at the work of painters as much as photographers and my strongest influences come from artists such as Cezanne, Klee, Frankenthaler, Matisse, Van Gogh. Too many more to name.  I love to read about their thoughts, explore their ideas, and enjoy their use of colour and form .

Photography is no longer simply a recording medium. It is a creative endeavor. I see myself as an artist and my paintbrush is my camera.

Vita:

I am a freelance photographer living in Sussex.

I am largely motivated by colour and form and the tension and dynamism that these components can bring to an image. My objective is not so much to portray a literal representation but rather depict my feelings evoked by the landscape. I try to find something extraordinary in the mundane.

My approach to photography is greatly informed by my background in painting and influences come as much from artists as photographers. I think as a consequence of this, I am drawn towards flat, abstract renditions. I have found a way of working using multiple exposures and intentional camera movement which helps me simplify the detail in a scene. It is a way of working which is controllable to a certain degree, but still has a great deal of unpredictability about it and it is this aspect that is both challenging and rewarding.

There are seemingly limitless combinations of settings which can be employed - my camera will combine up to 2000 images into one file. This, together with with variations of shutter speeds, white balance settings, lenses, exposure values etc: gives me an endlessly fascinating array of options as to how I approach my work.

Perhaps I am a rule breaker at heart - for me, nothing is more dispiriting and destructive to the creative process than somebody telling me that the rule of thirds, f/16 and a golden sunset must converge in perfect harmony in order for an image to be deemed successful.

My work has been featured in national and international publications and I have exhibited most recently at the biennial Masters of Vision in Southwell Minster. I have images in private collections worldwide and my work has been purchased by notable members of the art and photographic community.

Pablo Picasso: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Interview:

1. WICH IS THE CENTRAL QUESTION IN YOUR LIFE AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
I am driven by an exploration of colour and form.

2. WHO ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS / OR OTHER ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?
Ernst Haas, Andre Kertesz, Minor White, Van Gogh, Klee, Cezanne, Kandinsky, Matisse, Rothko, Frankethaler

3. WHAT MAKES AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER?
Commitment and curiosity

4. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT DECIDING TO BECOME A FULL-TIME PHOTOGRAPHER?
The growing realisation that becomes more apparent every day and that is the more I learn, the more I realise there is to learn.

5. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK AND WHAT IS DEMOTIVATING?
I am motivated by curiosity and a desire to explore. Dissatisfaction with my work and creative block are depressing but not necessarily demotivating.

6. WHAT ARE THE MOST PASSIONATE MOMENTS IN YOUR WORK?
The time in the landscape when I get to play – endless experimentation excites me enormously.

7. WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK?
Finding enough hours in the day to read the books I know will help me in my work.

8. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ARTISTRY?
Practice, commitment, research and experimentation.

9. WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR PERSONAL LEARNING IN PHOTOGRAPHY THAT YOU WOULD CONVEY TO A "NOVICE"?
Again – commitment. And a realization that time is far better spent going to art galleries than it is comparing lenses or new camera bodies.

10. WHICH ARE THE DRIVING FORCES FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND IN YOUR WORK?
A need to create and a desire to improve and acquire a greater understanding of what I do.

11. WHICH FEELINGS DETERMINE YOUR WORK WHEN OUT IN THE FIELD?
My work is a reflection of many elements and obviously what I am trying to portray varies greatly.

12. ON WHICH CRITERIA DO YOU JUDGE YOUR OWN WORK AS SUCCESSFUL?
If I feel an image has conveyed what is in my mind and come together as I envisaged.

13. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK AND THE BEAUTY OF OUR PLANET, NATURE: WHAT CONNECTION DO YOU SEE?
I try to present a different viewpoint. The job of an artist is to show the viewer something he or she hasn't seen. Portraying the many qualities of the natural world in an unexpected and intriguing way is my goal.

14. ASSUMING YOU WOULD HAVE 15 MINUTES ON A TV BROADCAST AND PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD COULD LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE SAYING, WHAT WOULD BE THE CORE OF YOUR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE?
I don't know if much of my personal philosophy would be that ground-breaking or interesting. I feel lucky that as an artist and a photographer I have learned to see things that many other people do not notice. I can only suggest that people take more time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.

At Work:

»I can only suggest that people take more time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.«

Awards:

- | USA Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014 7 images Highly Commended
- | GARDEN PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2013 'Greening the City' - finalist
- | GARDEN PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2012 'Greening the City' 2nd place & 3rd place
- | LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2012 - Judges commendation
- | GRAND PRIX DE LA DECOUVERTE - Juror award of merit 2012
- | INTERNATIONAL LOUPE AWARDS 2012 - Bronze award

 

Project: The Ballade of the White Horse

It is hard to overstate the affinity most of us feel when in the presence of a horse. Why do we take these beautiful animals to our hearts? They are graceful, elegant beasts; humble and gentle, courageous and resolute. Maybe part of their appeal is that they have so many qualities we would wish for ourselves.

Wild horses, especially, have always captivated me. I started making images of them about 5 years ago when I visited the Camargue.

There can be no more exhilarating sensation standing knee-high in water, in the soft glow of the setting sun while a herd of wild horses gallop straight towards you. Invigorating and terrifying in equal measure - it's not a time for carefully managed camera settings and tripods to me, their wild spirit and enviable freedom calls for an un-regimented approach with the camera.

By using slow shutter speeds and camera movement I have tried to capture their power and their sheer beauty of their movement.

I think my fascination with these creatures will never diminish and so the project continues, and most recently has been added to during a trip to Iceland.

Project: The Seasons Ebb Away

I have always been profoundly thankful that I live in a country with proper, defined seasons. I spent a couple of years in Florida when I was much younger and what I found most difficult to come to terms with was the lack of spring, autumn and winter.

Unrelenting sunshine and clear blue skies are fine for a day or two, but given the choice I would rather exist in murk and mist and subdued colours. These are the conditions of subtlety and softness; the gentle rain

 and the ethereal light that fills the soul and stirs the emotions.

This series of images is another long-standing investigation into not just the seasons, but the cusp of the seasons. What intrigues and delights me is when seasons collide and produce the unforeseen and it is this that I have tried to portray with these images.

A precociously early spring, an unexpected frost, the mist that suddenly descends from nowhere - all of these gifts from nature have me reaching for my camera.