I first encountered Paul Thompson's Navigate series a couple of months ago. For an inherently benign image the effect was arresting. I stopped and stared. Learning more about the project and Paul's multi-layered approach and technique I began to understand my initial reaction.
Shot at sunset using a large format film camera with exposure times ranging between one and eight seconds, gave little control over what happened within his image to shape the end result. This happenstance is vital to the work as Navigate becomes a series of chance events dictated by the constant and unpredictable motions of the sea, the wind, and the light; a reaction against meticulously planned image-making that leaves no room for twists of fate.
The long exposure time suggests the sea’s movement while the rest of the image remains motionless and unchanged, the marker static and suspended within the focal plane. The sea feels feral and primordial, and the markers, rigid and man-made, exist for just a moment in equilibrium.
Navigate is a series of pared-down photographs taken over three years documenting navigation markers found around the British coast. These innocuous red, green, and sometimes yellow poles warn mariners of concealed obstacles and jetties, guide vessels into harbours and offer directional instruction.
Paul's work has been recognised by Association of Photographers, Creative Circle, D&AD and shortlisted for the Terry O’Neill Photography Award. He has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, The Strand Gallery and been featured internationally.