Tales of Gloucestershire research – Peter Mitchell | Scarecrows

Peter Mitchell is a British photojournalist, born in 1943. He is considered one of the first people to photograph Britain using colour photography. For more than 40 years he has been documenting Leeds and the surrounding areas and produced three monographs of his work. One of these was ‘SOMETHING means EVERYTHING for SOMEBODY’ a collection of inanimate objects, being watched over by scarecrows. He went on to create a postcard book named ‘Scarecrows’ which I’m going to look at in  ore details in this blog post.


screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-38-14screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-38-43The photo on the left works well because the bright yellow bags attached to the arms of the scarecrow contrast with the greens and browns in the rest of the photo, the same applies for the red in the photo on the right. Mitchell is photographing in typical British weather, grey and cloudy skies, these muted colours enhance the greens and browns in the rest of the photo. Mitchell has taken these from a lower vantage point, creating a childlike point of view.screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-38-58screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-39-14The framing in the image on the left means that the scarecrow has been placed between the dip in the trees in the background, this combined with the angle of the photo gives the illusion that the scarecrow is bigger than it actually is. Flash has been used in the photo because the foreground and the scarecrow are both well lit, whereas the background is much darker. The photo on the right seems as though it would have been difficult to get right, there is so much white and grey within it, with the red mask on the scarecrow being the only bright colour.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-42-41This is probably my favourite photo in the collection, the yellow coat stands out extremely well against the dark cloudy background. The camera is at ground level, looking up, with the blurred grass in the foreground. It looks as though the photo could have been taken using flash judging by the reflections on the coat and the fact that the rain is visible, however, the grass in the background appears to also be fairly well lit, so it could be as a result of the bright sunlight that often occurs in stormy weather.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-43-13   I think that I can use Peter Mitchell’s work to influence my own projects, similarly to my Car Boot project, he is shooting outside in cloudy weather, often without the use of flash. His choice of angles is something that I could take inspiration from, shooting while kneeling down, making objects appear bigger. He also shoots through things, leaving them out of focus in the foreground of his images, another technique I could experiment with.  On an aesthetic level I really like this photo story, I think that Mitchell has taken a subject matter that would often be considered boring and turned it into something with personality. The different weather conditions, landscapes, materials and colours in the photograph all change the way the image is perceived. screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-47-18This photo was taken on a bright and sunny day, this enhances the yellow flowers, which in turn makes the scarecrow’s white clothing stand out. The scarecrow is in the centre of the photo with a cloud right in the middle of his head and two either side, resulting in a symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing image. Mitchell is holding the camera at eye level with the scarecrow, although there is something slightly unsettling about the scarecrow’s lack of facial features.






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