By Roy Hampson
Swirls of colour cloud the water in the jam jar as I prepare the powder paint for my next indoor photographic creation. I then feverishly apply the mixture to my latest ‘Still Life’ idea. It may be a set of old rusty tools laid out carefully to form a photographic composition or simply a vase of flowers. Mixing up the paint may seem a curious thing to do for starting off a spot of photographic self indulgence, but the brightly coloured powder paints lay at the heart of how I achieve a sumptuous look to many of my still life images. I carefully consider backgrounds too which are really important in making my creations especially eye catching, so I also paint up old bits of wood or card to act as colourful backdrops for my set up’s.
Colour is a powerful tool when applied to a creative photographer’s pallet, and I love the dynamic combination of primary colours.
Growing up in a grim coal-mining town in West Yorkshire during the 1950s, like most boys then – I was hooked on the amazing world of the Technicolor cowboy movie frequently shown at the local cinema. The storyline had very little interest to me back then, and the thrill of the chase and the shoot outs with the Red Indians left me cold. It was the intense colour images of endless blue skies, and bright sunshine that were the main attraction. They appeared so beautiful and intense, I would be drawn to watch the same movie at least three times during the week. The Hollywood movies depicted a different world to that outside the
Grimy dull streets consisting of rows and rows of tiny terraced houses which surrounded the local coal mine. Grey slag heaps, where grass wouldn’t grow and dirty black coal trains, and worst of all endless grey skies, and the sun rarely shone, so unlike those Hollywood epics. I craved to see colour, and began creating my very own colourful world during school art lessons and became attracted to the powder paints that were readily available in the classroom. The teacher realising my colourful obsession nicknamed me the powder paint kid after viewing much of my ‘dip the brush and daub the paint’ approach to art.
Fifty years on, I am still crazy about colour and add powder paints to much of my creative photography. During 1977 my wife purchased a Pentax K1000 camera for my birthday, and I haven’t looked back since. Most other folk armed with a brand new camera, would have been more attracted to photographing the great outdoors. That is, snapping pictures of landscapes, sunsets, buildings holidays or families and so on. For no apparent reason or motivation, I became obsessed with taking endless pictures of everyday household objects. I found colourful plastic a fascinating subject to photograph, along with glassware, stationary items such a pencils, and coloured card even the wife’s collection of fake art deco pottery came under scrutiny for a possible still life image.
I would arrange the objects carefully on a tabletop and soon discovered daylight shining through the spare bedroom window was the very best method of illuminating my table top still life set ups. On occasions I have to re-evaluate my approach if the daylight is poor, a simple table desk lamp comes in handy providing light in difficult situations.
I indulge in other branches of photography too. That is as long as the subjects are oozing with colour. Architecture, gardens, flora and fauna, after dark scenes of towns and cities are favourite, also stage photography for a local theatre academy. Whatever photographic direction I choose, it’s not long before I’m back indulging in my still life creations which I consider simply as a pleasurable pastime. Really, my style of photography can be carried out with just about any camera available including mobile phones. No specialised photographic equipment required, just place your chosen subjects on or near a window ledge during daylight hours. Your limitations are only your own imagination.