Mark Power: The Shipping Forecast

The next photographer I have looked at as part of my research for my self directed project is Mark Power and in particular I took an interest in his Shipping Forecast series of photographs, which were published in a photo book of the same title in 1996. This series of black and white film photographs are taken of the 31 places along the UK coastline that the BBC shipping forecast covers. Power's photographs of beaches and coastal life captures postwar British life and a huge part of the culture of these places as the weather forecast affects the livelihoods of the people who live there. 

His photographs of these places are captioned with the forecast for the area on the day the photograph was taken. I have included the captions with the photographs above because they are really important to this series and is what gives context to these photographs. The forecast clearly links the people of these places to a real sense of what it is to be British, which really romanticises the British Isles. I do feel that these photographs are a really interesting series of social documentary images that communicate an aspect of British culture in a unique way.

The way power composes space in his photographs I feel communicates how much force nature has over these communities and the lack of people in the photographs also suggests the control these forecasts have, over how these people live their daily lives. The use of shadows and the way clouds are often looming in his photographs also gives a haunting quality to these images as though these moments of calm are under threat. 

Many of his landscape photographs remind me of romantic paintings with their symmetrical nature and stillness, making the viewer reflect whilst reading the caption in these silent spaces Power has created. There is something poetic about the nature of the shipping forecast and visualised with these landscapes to me makes these scenes feel spiritual. What we read about in the captions is out of human control, and instead is presented as a higher force.

In many ways my subject matter could be considered a higher force and these atmospheric images have given me a lot more to think about in how I can present subject matter of this nature. The way I photograph a place if I choose to shoot landscapes and still life will very much effect how a viewer reads and receives the caption's description of the hauntings. 

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