Is it okay to “stage” a photo?

wtp day 3.jpg

Everything there is to be known

Very few of my photos are “staged”. There have been some “still life” shots, some macro shots, and even some dynamic shots, which I have intentionally set up to fit a theme or idea; but in the main, my photography is about landscape, it’s about the beauty I see around me, as I travel the roads and byways of Wiltshire, beauty which I see and want to share, want to capture and hold. Or it’s about light; the way a certain kind of sunlight falls on the landscape, or on a tree, or on a road; the way the clouds obscure the light and change the world around me.

However, this photo of Steve, my remarkable husband, was set up. It’s part of a project I do on Flickr – 116 Pictures in 2016. One hundred and sixteen pictures about random subjects, which are set by our diligent administrators, which test our ingenuity! What can you find to photograph to fit this subject?! This photo, “everything there is to be known”, is my take on “Winnie the Pooh Day”, a theme which, on first reading, filled me with horror – twee pictures of teddy bears and piglets flitted through my mind. But then I thought about just how philosophical old Pooh can be. Isn’t that the point of Pooh … to teach children lessons in life; isn’t that why I so enjoyed reading it to my son when he was just a little boy? So I got on to trusty google and started looking for Winnie the Pooh quotes, of which there are many that delight. This is the one I liked the best ….

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.“

As soon as I read those words again, I realised that they perfectly sum up the feeling I get, when I watch a river flowing. It’s a wonderfully simple thing, to stand on a bridge and look down at a river flowing beneath you. There is so much comfort in water. Why is that?! Is it because we are made up of so much of the stuff?!! I have always loved rivers. Just remembering the times I clambered around on the banks of the Scottish rivers of my youth, makes me happy. It’s not actually that I believe myself to “know everything there is to be known”, it’s rather that it is calming, comforting, and above all, peaceful. It stills my mental chatter, that flowing water.

So, I had my idea for the Winnie the Pooh photo … Steve (for who else could it possibly be?!) standing on a bridge, looking down at the water. But which bridge?? Where to go in lovely Wiltshire to find just the right bridge? Again, I consulted google. A search on “bridges in Wiltshire”, gives you many fine examples. There are lovely bridges in Salisbury, in Bradford on Avon, in Castle Combe, to name but a few. There is the iconic Palladian Bridge at Stourhead, but that has been photographed too many times already, and I’m not sure one is actually allowed to stand on it anyway. And then it struck me … don’t have a lovely example of an old redbrick bridge just across the fields from home in Mildenhall?! After a quick reconnoitre on my morning walk, to ensure that I could get down onto the bank to take the photo I had in mind, (I could, though it involved trespassing several feet onto Crown land for a minute, but I’m sure the Queen won’t mind; she’s a great supporter of the Arts!), I got Steve to take a detour on our way to Salisbury Plain, then to stand, deep in thought, looking down at the flowing water! He’s such a good sport!

I’ve had some very kind and favourable comments on the photo from my Flickr friends (thank you!), so perhaps the odd “staged” photo is okay?

If you’d like to see my photos, here’s my Flickr page.


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