Since starting my photographic career I have always been keen to enhance my skills within the documentary style as I feel this area can have a massive reach to the public and make a difference to the topic documented. Having been to Nepal last year where I taught in 6 schools over 3 weeks I gained an insight into documentary photography and how to achieve the final images that I wanted to capture. This also gave me a small idea of the many approaches used within this style. On my return I began further research into this area and developed my knowledge and skills not only within my final HND year but also within my personal time. This allowed me to develop my own idea for a documentary project and also a better understanding of the styles and approaches I would use during this project. I have taken inspiration from Sebastiao Salgados style of documenting his subjects and Andy Hughes litter on beaches documentary that shows the extent of littering on beaches throughout the UK.
Living within the Trossachs National Park I regularly enjoy spending time in the park and getting to know the best spots within for photography. This lead me to discover the vast amount of litter within what is supposed to be the national park and a protected area within Scotland. Having made this discovery I realised this would be the perfect subject to document through a photographic project. There is a vast socio-economic demographic throughout the National Park with there being areas of poverty and extreme wealth only being separated by Loch Lomond, which gives a diversity to the project as a difference between types of litter will be shown in a thought provoking manner. I have, to date, completeled a series of images purely from Balloch Park, a main area within the National Park, which had been printed in photo book form to be able to show people the base idea for my project. My hope is that this project will allow for others to be made aware of the vastness of this issue and that we as a country must take action now before more of our presious wildlife and countryside is destroyed passed the point of repair.
I have now developed a style for the images in this documentary project using a long lens to add compression along with a wide angle lens to make the subject appear larger in the landscapes both work well in isolating the subject while leaving in the natural surroundings, I have lit the images with a flash unit to help bring the subject out which also allows me to reduce the background exposure keeping the look consistent from image to image allowing me to create a stronger set of images. I have decided to expanded the location to include Glasgow, and this decision was made as I wanted to be able to show the difference between the city and the national park areas in regards to the socio-economic differences which can be seen portrayed through something such as litter. Since making this decision I have been to various locations throughout the National park and Glasgow to scout for sites of potential shoots in the future. I have built up a catalogue of images from these various locations, this has given me a stock which I can add to and select from as well as facilitating feedback around the project. I have been advertising the project through my own social media and website, this has received some great feedback which has gave me new ideas to add to the project and shown me that this is a subject the public feels strongly about. I have also been able to include some off shoot work such as fuel spills within the natural environment which supports the main project as it portrays the unintentionally harm humans cause to nature.
In going forward with this project I hope to include some of the well used trails through Scotland and the massive build up of litter within these areas by walking them myself at the end of the season to see them at their worst. This is something that, as these trails become more popular with everyday tourists, has gotten worse and worse to the point some authorities have had to introduce camping bans or permits to try and reduce the number of campers however this has made many of the campers seek areas that authorities do not check creating a littering problem elsewhere. This can be seen throughout the West Highland Way to name one of the trails.
© Gary Ellis Photography