We are bringing you a series of posts called This is What I See from photographers ~ starting with the mentors at Farm Week. You could put 10 photographers at the same event and we would all take a different set of images. Strip back the equipment and the processing, what really makes us all different is that we all come to take those frames with a different eye. What We See is a result of our lifetime’s experiences and our individual obsessions. If I could be in a room with my photography heroes and could only ask them one question, I want to know this ~ What Do You See? So as it’s not an easy thing to bare your photography soul, I’m going to kick this off. We’d love to know if this series inspires you or draws you to look at your own history and why you see what you see.
This Is What I See ~ Lisa Devlin
I grew up in Northern Ireland in something politely termed The Troubles. This is much like calling a hurricane a breeze… I grew up in Northern Ireland in a War. When I left my house I saw guns, I saw petrol bombs, I saw rubber bullets, barricades, I saw hatred, it was bizarre but it was daily life to me, it was my normality. My Father was a Roman Catholic and my Mother grew up a Protestant. The entire country was one side or the other and to be both meant you were neither. At school out of 900 pupils, my brother and I were the only ones with a Catholic surname. I learnt pretty early on that I was to be on the outside.
In my first year at school a little classmate invited me back for a play-date… I did something that the mother didn’t like and she spat the words Fenian Bitch at me… I asked my Mum what it meant and though I didn’t understand, I knew it wasn’t nice and I never went back to that house. Older boys muttered it as I walked past and I soon knew exactly what it meant… that I would always be on the outside.
My parent’s marriage did not survive the war outside or in… The anger and the hatred crept in through the door late at night and soon it was all that was left… When they eventually divorced we were the only kids from a broken home, still on the outside.
I hid in my room with the light off and the music on…. The Cure, The Waterboys, The Velvet Underground, The Hothouse Flowers, The Lotus Eaters.. Musical poets who wrote the words that took me to another world. I hid in the Art Room with the other outsiders and together we made our own inside. I took photographs of what I saw…. I passed by the barricades, the bomb sites and the sectarian graffiti and I photographed the landscape. The things that were there long before the war. I grew up, I left and I combined my love of music with the camera. I found a place in the world as a music photographer. Suddenly it made sense to be on the outside.
I’m comfortable on the outside, it feels familiar. On the outside, you get to look in, you get to see but you are not involved… you can record and you can take your time. You decide when to take the image, when to freeze time and contain it forever in the frame. This is exactly how I feel shooting weddings. It’s not my wedding, they are not my guests, I’m the outsider but it is my job to tell the story so me and my camera linger around the edges. I have to be part of it to know what I have to capture but my favourite moments are when nobody sees me, when I step back and a moment happens, a thought crosses a mind, an emotion passes from fingertips to face, words are whispered. I want to capture that real love is there, that whatever may have happened before or whatever comes after, that right then the love was there. This is what I see when I’m on the outside.
Lisa Devlin is one of the mentors at Farm Week and is hosting a workshop for photographers on the Saturday looking at Branding, Marketing and SEO for Wedding Photographers. She will be chipping in on a few of the other classes and has some availability for Kitchen Table one to one sessions.