Photography Blog

James Tarry's photography blog. Ramblings from a photographers over active mind. Email now or call +44 (0)7855 742 633.

All Roads Lead to Dungeness.....

It started with a Text.. or a Tweet.. I cannot really recall, either way it ended with an enthusiastic "yes" in return. My friend Cole was wanting to go to the Sound Mirrors in Denge but strugging to get there without a car (which fortunatly I have) and did I want to join to go see them and then head on into Dungeness? 

The Sound Mirrors of Denge is something I knew nothing about, but after a quick Google found that they were these massive concrete structures that functioned as an early warning system for incoming planes during the war. They only open them up once a year now to vistors and as it's not exactly the easiest to get to, I was somewhat hoping it wouldnt be rammed with people and photographers.... it was (despite what it suggests in the selected photos here ha) 

Dungeness on the other hand was a place I had heard of. A somewhat 'odd' place, with a beach beside a nuclear power plant, a smattering of architecturally designed holiday homes inbetween unmodernised holiday homes and shacks. An area of 'abandoned' but apparently also still working fishing area with paraphernalia littered all over the place. It has severeral lighthouses and an odd little 'model train' thing that runs and toots through it, all while the power plant looms in the distance. It is somewhat bleak... but bizarrely fascinating. It also reminded me of the Salton Sea which we visited in California (click here for that blog article). With some wonderful flat light and our tummies full from fish rolls and fried Potatoes from a nearby container turned sea food cafe we set off shooting as much as we could..... 


A great 'Sound Mirror" info page with history etc: here by Andrew Grantham 

My friend and photographer Cole Peters website: here

My Salton Sea article: here

Mind State Project: Update

Been a good couple of months since I've posted, there are a couple of reasons for this; 1/ i've been lazy and 2/ I've been busy! ha 

I've been continuing the The Mind State project and I have completed a number of new images and scrapped even more than that. Mid way through waiting for some new Black and White to arrive I tried to switch it up by buying old Polaroid colour film but both boxes were dry and unusable. In the end it made sense to keep this whole project Black and White especially as it seems to be more reliable. 

Last week "29.01.2017" made its first outing into the world and hung on the wall of Salon Des Refuses exhibiton in Islington. As a 54" x 40" print, it dominated our living room but on a gallery wall it seemed (to me at least) to lose some of its impact. I have always wanted these prints to be huge and immersive so I felt a little disappointed. However, long term-I'd like to get these into a gallery all on their own so there will hopefully be time to sort that "isssue" out. As it stands 54" x 40" is big enough-it will certainly look impressive come The Other Art Fair in October. I just hope that they attract the attention they seem to be getting in the online world. In the last couple of months since really chucking everything at this-the amount of people either being in touch about it because the subject has connected with them or because they love the trees/look and feel has been really nice. 

In other news I have been on Jon Wilkenings Podcast. He and others have been nagging at me for ages to do this, but as someone who finds talking on phones extremly stressful I had been putting it off for equally as long as they've been nagging! It touches on the project, my past and my commercial work. You can listen below:

And I think thats it for now. I will leave you with a few images from the series and behind the scenes of it all. Until next time.






Mind State: A personal project about mental health

For years now I have been trying and failing to come up with a visual project about mental health/illness. In fact I've also written several blog posts about this topic after seeing a slew of creatives all discussing how they struggle with mental health online, but I have always deleted them. Depression still feels a bit of a taboo subject or something people still see as an over exaggeration, something you will 'snap out of', or even a call for attention-I think that's why I have always deleted my scribbling. 

For the record I was diagnosed with depression around my 20s, I remember my doctor saying it was surprising it hadn't appeared earlier considering my medical history up to that point. While mine was only a mild case and I was off medication soon afterwards over the years its always been there, lurking in the background. Around my 30s I found myself in a job I hated for 5 years and in a volatile relationship that I could not seem to get out of that had me dipping back into past troubles-I was almost always angry, felt insanely alone and trapped.  I had figured out tricks or ways to balance myself-music in my headphones was one of these (later on the use of Twitter was another way of release). I used to have headphones in or close to me pretty much all the time just in case I needed to drown out/calm my thoughts quickly. In fact I still have music in or around me when needed, but while these tricks helped, they didnt get me out of the situations/feeling better.

Without going into too many details, in the back half of 2016 I felt a change happening again. In my 20s there had been a breaking point (literally) that got me to the doctors and when I was in that bad job/relationship years later there was a chance breaking point there that got me into a better place then too. In January 2017 mind racing almost hourly, countless near sleepless nights, feeling physically sick almost daily and added amounts of anxiousness every time I had to deal with certain matters or people a breaking point would happen again. 

It would be on a beach in West Sussex close to my family home where I had been so many times in the past to walk and clear my mind. This time I had my pinhole camera and a bunch of Polaroid film. The fresh air, the rain, the empty winter beach always does wonders for me-Photographically and mentally something clicked. In that moment I knew what had to be done to balance the troubles that was making me unhappy in my day to day and I knew exactly how to make a series of photos representing the levels of depression, anxiety and stress that has fluctuated in and out of my life. 

What follows is the start of a series of images shot entirely on old Polaroid 4x5 Film stock with a pinhole camera-The process itself to get these photos is often serene and relfection filled. The images are of isolated objects with a circle that represents me and how I have been feeling either in that week or memories of the past. The grey circle represents the anxiety/stress/depression, the larger the circle the more intense the moment was. It has been an incredibly cathartic process. 

There are many out there that suffer and don't/cant reach out or aren't fortunate to have the support and loved ones I am glad to have in my life. As I have found in the past few weeks after slowing releasing this series, you (we) are not alone, my hope is that by sharing this personal experience and series that it touches someone somewhere, maybe even help.

*Update: the follwing photos have been changed since inital post. Due to the nature of a long project, one gets better with equipment, materials and gets a better vision (in theory). There is now also a Instagram Page where you can view the full set as they happen: mindstateproject

2017: Pinhole photography and Instant Film Pt2

Hello again.

Alot has happened since the last post on my new instant film direction including; New55 film rarely working 'properly', a possible faulty back (which wasnt faulty), an Ondu pinhole camera with 6 light leaks (sorted by photographers best friend-Gaffer Tape). Unsatisfactory email replies with New55 over what I felt was a faulty box of film (5 sheets-none fitted properly, all ripped apart) and returns of all stock (and the other "faulty not faulty" Polaroid back) taken back to shop only to hear they had similar issues and concerns.

I will spare all the back and forths but the whole thing has been an exhausting battle. By the time New55 offered to replace the film I had decided to take the risk and buy the original Polaroid Type 55 film off Ebay. The risk being that this film is discontinued, expired and possibly the film chemical has dried up.... the seller in this case had apparently stored it in a fridge for the best part of 10 years, so I thought it was worth a punt. At £180 a box (not including postage) its the most expensive film I have bought to date, but it still works out cheaper per shot than New55 which currently runs at £60-70 a box (not including postage) for only 5 shots per box. What could go wrong that already hasn't, right? 

Well I set off back to Richmond Park one beautiful Saturday morning, pulled the Polaroid film out, crossed fingers and started again. Success. The film fits, works, and delivers. I shot 7 exposures that morning and I have 1 keeper, while that does not sound a great return per shot wise, the quality of that one keeper is way better in my opinion of what I had (examples below). The 6 others, 3 hadnt processed "properly" (part of the risk of instant film) and 3 were compositional/pinhole errors that I had made. 

I'm super happy with these Polaroid Type55 slides, its how I remember my experiance with the Fuji Pack film, enjoyable. The thing I need to improve at is getting the shot composition better and quicker, the disadvantage of using the Pinhole is that its pretty much all guess work as there is no way of 'seeing' or previewing what you are aiming at. As with every stage of every idea I have there's been trials, swearing, impatience and frustration but the big positive I take away every time this happens is that somehow I'm always able to stick with it and figure out a solution....ONWARDS AND UPWARDS! 

Polaroid Type55

Polaroid Type55



Thank you for reading-If you enjoyed please hit that subscibe button, I have a few plans over the year that might be of interest. If you have not voted for me in the Finals of Art Of Building 2016, you can do so here , my Gherkin photo (below) was selected from 2000 entries and needs your help to win: voting closes 23rd Jan! :) 

2017: Pinhole photography and Instant film

New Year and a new set and style of images. 

This new direction has been on the cards for a very long time now but trying to get all the ducks in a row to produce it was proving difficult: the pinhole camera was delayed nearly a year, the instant film is pretty experimental and also very expensive for only 5 shots per box. 

Ultimately I wanted to produce a set of images that were 'dream like', calming and atmospheric in quality hence the pinhole camera choice. I also wanted them to be insanely imperfect, which lends itself well to the New55 instant film as the spread of chemicals is never quite the same and often bleeds out. In my head I think I was also aiming for less photorealism and more of a 'painterly' quality, they (I believe) will look really fantastic printed on some textured paper, and big, of course. 

The B&W film packs seem to work better then the Colour for me, they also have the added bonus of being on a sort of textured paper so when zoomed in you can see cracks, like dried paint..... the B&W packs are also £5-10 cheaper so there's that too!

They are very different to my previous work, which tend to be big bright colours but I feel they still fit within the same realm as I further try to push film photography. My main concern is that they do not translate well on a screen and to really 'get' them they need to be printed. Either way, I'm looking forward to continuing with this, getting feedback on them and hopefully showing it this year at an Art Fair or two during the year. 





Thank you for reading-If you enjoyed please hit that subscibe button, I have a few plans over the year that might be of interest. If you have not voted for me in the Finals of Art Of Building 2016, you can do so here , my Gherkin photo (below) was selected from 2000 entries and needs your help to win :-)