Welcome, and thanks for coming along!
🎉 Congratulations to Steve who won my 100th Digest competition and will receive the green man boss from my van.
It’s early and there’s a lot to do. I walk along the street, beyond the transept, to a door at the rear of the cathedral. I stand and wait until I hear the distinctive jingle of keys and then a clunk as the door opens. Lincoln is just waking up: there’s a rattle of milk bottles in the close and a giddy chirrup of sparrows as they fight over a morsel along the cusping.
The verger is giving me access to the cathedral before it opens so that I can complete the last leg of two wonderful days of photography. The verger heads off towards the cloisters and leaves me to get on with my work. I walk from the Angel Choir into the Sanctuary and set up my tripod and camera.
Whilst I’m working I get lost in the dials and settings of the camera. I work to find the right balance of aperture and time so that I can capture the first light as it rakes along the arcade and defines the details on the stiff leaf capitals.
My light meter tells me to expose for three seconds, but instinct says two. I plumb the information into the camera and then press the shutter release. There’s a comforting click as the exposure is made.
With my mind liberated from its task, I stop and take in my surroundings. With the verger in the cloister, I’m the only person inside the building.
I think to myself: ‘this is my work, and this is where my work takes me, and I'm so grateful.’
Being alone in this place in the silence and the softened light seems so magical that I find it hard to root myself in the present. I feel giddy with it all - so I do what I always do in these situations - I take a chelfie (a church selfie): a photograph of myself within the space. It grounds me.
A photograph of Hereford Cathedral by Edwin Smith is the inspiration behind my chelfies. His photograph is more than just an image of the cathedral - it captures the state of his mind during a serious illness. Through the use of perspective and his dodging and burning, he reveals and conceals parts of the photograph to emphasise the silhouette of an angel.
He speaks to us both through the building and the photograph.
Although he's not visible, the photograph is a portrait of Edwin Smith. Sometimes photographs can be read like a book.
And so, wherever I go, through the the portraits of myself, I try and capture the atmosphere and snare the intangible: a visual diary of my state of mind wrapped within the genius loci of a building.
Mind and building combined. The person, the place, the light, the time.
Sometimes, when looking at an image I feel that the boundary between myself and the photograph dissolves completely. Photography is a powerful medium.
Photography is such an integral part of my life that occasionally I feel as though my photographs act like charms. They inoculate me against the vagaries of present times.
During times when collective memory has become shorter, my photography has helped me stay in touch with the long view.
During times when the world is defined by extremes, my photography has shown that the story of my life and the communities around me is not the same as that chronicled by the media.
My photographs tell my story, my journey from darkness into light, they are an affirmation of who I am and they are my reductive way of filtering out the static in this world.
The photographs act like wormholes into the time they were taken, and are often the instigators of the stories that I tell within this digest; but more than that, amidst bouts of punishing low self-esteem, they remind me that I’m not an imposter, that I’m worthy of the places I photograph.
They remind me that I am a photographer.
I am a photographer because I have faced myself in the mirror.
I sing the song of buildings because their makers showed me the way, and I’m a sculptor of light because - after being plunged into darkness by depression - my camera taught me how to see.
Through my lens I will journey on into 2024 - to capture the spirit of the places I visit, and ultimately share them for as long as I am able.
I hope you will join me on my travels in 2024
✨The New Year is bringing promise of new adventures.
Collaboration with Ken Sisk Productions.
Ken Sisk Productions (New York) are making a film about our built heritage and the materials, skills and processes used.
In January, I will be travelling in Woody with the film crew across several counties (including Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Kent and Wiltshire) engaging with their interactions with some of the top skilled practitioners of trades and architectural practices in the most beautiful locations.
Member Powered Photography
Memberships are powering another photo commission in Wales in the Spring. There are two more free photo shoots available for historic places in need.
New Photography and Digest Firsts
Coming soon...Lavenham, Kilpeck and Malmesbury.
Wisdom sits in places. Can you help support this Digest and keep me on the road in 2024?
Membership options from £2 per monthExplore the benefits
Top 10 most popular photographs on social media in 2023.
No. 1 🎉🎉🎉
Top 3 most viewed pages on Genius Loci Digest in 2023:
Top 3 most viewed Digests on Genius Loci Digest in 2023:
Camper-van-camino through Wales: Brithdir, Manordeifi, Castlemartin, Freshwater East, Gumfreston and St. Govan's Chapel.
Wisdom sits in places: the locations that impacted me most in 2023:
and so many more...
My favourite camper van snack of 2023:
Cheesy Egg Bread
My favourite van accessory of 2023:
AeroPress Go Coffee Maker
My favourite camper van hookup of 2023:
My favourite road trip of 2023:
Brigstock to Kew
"I feel very privileged to be here in the gardens at Kew at this time. Not a soul about. Peace and stillness, waiting for the light to dip. That perfect moment where the golden hour turns into the blue hour and a luminescent equilibrium occurs."
Wishing you a peaceful and rewarding New Year!
Thank you for all your support this year. I'm so grateful.
Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.