Getting Jon’s “drift”

Jon Eland is a genius at facilitating the participation and progress of others. Exposure Leeds is a monthly meeting of keen photographers that has been built up over the past years by Jon and a small team of others. When the June meeting of Exposure Leeds changed venue, Jon took the opportunity to suggest a new approach to the familiar activity of the photowalk. Inspired by his own photographic practice, and the many photobooks and zines he has been publishing (often featuring his travels) Jon proposed that those who turned out try their hand at a photographic “drift”.

You may recognise an affinity here with the practices of psychogeography. From 2009-12 Tina Richardson ran a psychogeography group at the University of Leeds. Neither Jon nor I were active members of that group. What I like about Jon’s ‘drift’ is that it invited photographers to think in this direction without having to do too much prior reading…

These were the instructions which Jon gave to each person who attended:

Take a photographic drift

A new alternative to the photowalk – react to your space in a different way; plan how you will react and then drift through it.

The drift is a reaction to the space you find yourself in – look around and find things that visually interest you and record them. What actually interests is down to you – and how you record them is up to you. But, if you’re a little unsure here are some ideas.

It’s important that you decide an approach before you start each drift, you can adapt if you need to – but note how and why you adapt and use this to inform future drifts.

Be a collector – find similar things and record as many of them as you can find; more than one collection is possible and consider photographing the things the say way or making each unique images

Be a cartographer – record your route and create a photographic map so others can follow you – consider doing the reverse view too so they can do it backwards! Or follow a route, capturing something of interest every 10, 15 or 20 paces.

Record past interactions in abstentia – look for signs that others have been there before, what marks they’ve left. Consider the story behind their presence. Consider also recording interactions with those you find on your drift.

On your marks…

Site and discuss, then leave after try; try as many or few drift techniques either individually or in small groups as you wish – then come back and discuss how it went.

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