When I came across the Long Exposure collective and its ‘So Many Things I Had Thought Forgotten’ project, the idea of taking a piece of poetry and interpreting it through photography deeply resonated with me. As someone who uses photography as inspiration for poetic expression, I was fascinated to see things from a different perspective.
Firstly though, in order to understand how the project came about, we need to go back to the beginning, to the formation of the collective itself.
The Long Exposure collective consists of eleven former students from the UK, the US and Europe who got together whilst studying for an MA in photography at Falmouth University. Initially during the course, the collective wanted to create a social media presence to promote their work but as time went on this evolved into the idea of putting together an in-person exhibition.
However, the collective was and still is much more than an opportunity to show work either in the virtual or the non-virtual world.
“It is (our) invisible bonds, our shared experiences and knowledge, the differences we have, the life experiences and journeys we took through the course that allowed us then, and allow us now, to examine, comment, debate and dissect ours and others’ work.” Tim Stubbs Hughes
Image taken by Tim Jones
This idea of an international photography collective with its diversity of experience was something which I was keen to explore in more detail so I asked the collective to tell me a bit more about how the photographers’ individual cultural backgrounds influence their work.
“This diversity of experiences, histories and the now, all feel important to the group. We are not bound by national borders, or a single philosophy but rather are interested to see how we respond to opportunities and ideas that present themselves to us.” Tim Stubbs Hughes
Image taken by Victoria Smith
“Bringing together different perspectives from diverse cultural backgrounds in a common project like ‘So Many Things I Had Thought Forgotten’ has been an incredible experience. Each photographer has produced a very personal interpretation and the result is an amazing variety of image-making styles. The stories told reflect how each of us experience reality from a distinct perspective. The collective brings together a series of individual voices. Diversity is an extremely enriching experience. There is a very positive energy that helps you grow and learn from others. The dynamics pushes you out of your comfort zone.” Isabelle Boutriau
Image taken by Isabelle Boutriau
So, it is clear that when it came to planning an exhibition of its work, the collective needed an idea which would allow each photographer to create their own personal response. A number of suggestions were put forward by the group based around using language to create a body of work.
Isabelle Boutriau suggested they take the four lines from the poem ‘Why Did I Dream Of You Last Night’ by Philip Larkin, a poem which revolves around the passing of time, the fragility of our memories, the confrontation with days and feelings that we thought were long gone. This reference to the past and how that can never leave you, struck a chord with the collective.
“Through the directness of Larkin’s poetry, the group seeks to present work that is of a personal nature, touching on memories, found moments and events, and journeys through time and place. Despite the common starting point, technically and thematically very different pictures emerged. They show us the beauty and specialness in seemingly trivial moments, bring us closer to the stories and emotions of loved ones, and uncover hidden stories of everyday places in the UK, Europe and the USA.” The Long Exposure
Image taken by Clare Wilson
The ‘So Many Things I Had Thought Forgotten’ exhibition will be showing at the Centrespace Gallery in Bristol from 17th – 20th March 2023 before returning to be part of the ‘Days of Photography’ Festival in Darmstadt in Germany. The exhibition will then be showing in the Kunsthalle venue at the end of April and throughout May 2023.