It was the summer of 2010, and I had just started taking photographs. I had my first “proper” digital camera and I was slowly finding my feet, totally curious about everything to do with photography. I had also started to make friends on Flickr who inspired me to try new things. I would check in every day to see what they had chosen to post every day, and why.
And then Fridays came, and they would all post pictures of fences.
It took me a few weeks to realise what was going on. It was a game on Flickr, a way to garner more likes and boost the chances that your image might reach the hallowed “Explore” page, where it would be seen by far more people. (In effect, all the participants in the group agreed to favourite each other’s images, making them all more visible to Flickr’s mysterious algorithms. People play similar games on Instagram today.)
But Fence Friday was also much more than that. It helped me to see things I had never seen before. Getting more serious about my photography was teaching me to see things in a whole new way (and not just fences, though I started to look at them in a whole new light). All those fences also helped me learn how to translate what I was seeing into images that other people might not just favourite, but really connect with.
My fences album on Flickr is a time capsule of my early images in so many ways; the images I chose to take, the light I chose to take them in, and the way I chose to edit my images. And because there’s one every week, you can see the seasons change and other things going on in our lives. It was a really good way of teaching me so many things.
I learnt that I loved the light. And flare. And oh my goodness. BOKEH! I learnt about having good titles for images. One of my early challenges was to take an Fence Friday image on an early iPhone, and now here I am still playing around and even selling my mobile photos. How things have changed since then!
We were big on walks with the children back then and many pictures were taken as we explored the countryside with our little ones. But I realise now that I was also learning about the seasons through my lens.
This robin image was a complete accident. I was taking a picture of a fence in the snow when the robin landed, and I had no idea it would be in the picture! It sells every single year for Christmas cards. Hilarious.
I love that one of my last fence images was shot on film on the way back from Jonathan Canlas’s course after I hadn’t slept all night. I felt lost and scared. Looking back, I feel as though that image marks the transition from my early days, when I was still learning the ropes, to the kind of photography I do now, a lot of which is on film. That fence marked the boundary, you might say, between the old Fence Friday Kirstin and the new Film Kirstin!
Of course so many of these images are terribly dated and not very good. But I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I wouldn’t be doing what I do today if it hadn’t been for all those fences and my gang of fence-loving Flickr friends, many of whom are still my friends today. Fence Friday also reminds me of a more innocent time, before smartphones took over the world, when internet photography was just done by people who really liked photography. We can’t go back to those days, but my Fence Friday images remind me what fun we all had.