Overall I am extremely happy with the results of this project. I set out to make a documentation of allotment sites in various areas of the country, and I had no idea how interesting these places were until I got out and started shooting. There are almost endless subjects to capture, and I feel I have only dented the surface, and believe the time constraint may have been a good thing otherwise I may have never stopped and ended up with thousands of images.
When I set out to create the body of work I was determined to make the main focus portraits of people, influenced heavily by my project on greasy spoon cafés last year where the portraits were by far the most successful aspects. I feel that even after the massive amount of experimentation throughout the project I have come back to this initial realisation, and the portraits are still my favorite images of the series. I believe the success of these images is partly down the subjects themselves and partly the technique I used to shoot them, which I have honed over the course of the year and that was massively inspired by photographers such as Mark Power and Alec Soth. As well as the portaits the other success of the project is the sheds. These structures epitomise what drew me to the sites in the first place, their beautiful wonky charm free from building regulations perfectly demonstrate the amazing array of subjects the sites have to offer.
From a technical viewpoint the switch from digital to 120mm medium format film was paramount for the final look of the project. Many of the photographers who influenced the series shot in large format, which unfortunately was beyond my reach due to the costs, so I felt shooting medium format would be as close as I could get. Using film has given the images beautiful colours and tones, and allowed me to utilise the shallow depth of field I craved for my portraits. Also the higher quality has really given justice to all the details of the subjects.
Above all else I have made new friends and I learnt later on in the project that the Brent site that was the focus of the series is under threat from the council, which has made the images not only important to me but potentially the people in them as well. The project has brought a new level to my image making ability and interaction skills with my subjects. I feel my photographic style has really been established through this series.
As well as the images I am happy with the book I have created. I decided to steer clear of online book printers as I have had poor results in the past, and opted to print the images myself. This has really done justice to the 120mm scans, as the print quality is far superior. I also wanted the book to be a one off, and more of an item and just a book, which is why I created the wooden cover. I think this has set the work aside from conventional photo books and made it feel more like a something that borders on documentary photography and a one off art piece. Although the book cover has it’s draw backs as it has to handled in a specific way to view the images properly I think it was worth the effect as it has made this piece far more unique.
Overall I am ecstatic with what I have created and feel it is most definitely a unique piece of photo art.