March 2018. For a few days, the weather in England, especially the south-west, goes crazy. There’s snow – an almost unprecedented amount of it – everywhere. Everything is closed. There’s no work, no school, only a weird kind of half-life in a defamiliarised world.
I spend the first day of this madness with my two boys. We go to the park, chase each other through snowdrifts, play snowballs. We slip and slide through the streets, but we don’t go far. The car is snowed in. The roads are impassable. Our world has shrunk and been made anew. It’s bright, beautiful, vibrant, and we have a wonderful time. I even take a few photographs. Family snaps.
But then night falls, and I head out again.
These photographs are the result. Places so familiar that they’d become almost invisible to me suddenly became uncertain. It was as if the park, the streets, even the carpark of the local supermarket had reimagined themselves, replaced themselves with a darker, slightly skewed version of their own essence. I spent a couple of hours in the same spots I’d been to earlier that day with my boys: the park which my flat overlooks; the main street of the small suburb of the city; the backstreets, the carparks, the road junctions and the graveyard.
It couldn’t have felt more different.
I’ve always loved the ways in which still images can replace what we think we know with another version of that understanding. By allowing oneself to be more open to the vagaries of light, focus, composition and technique, one can enhance this “re-placing” even further. Places become uncertain, liminal; people become more vulnerable or more threatening than they would normally be. When the world takes it upon itself to change, that’s the time to recognise how the usual rules do not always apply. That’s the time to grab your camera, head out into these remade and remarkable surroundings, and see what you can find.
Jason Jackson is a writer and photographer who lives in the south-west of England. His prize-winning writing has been published extensively online and in print, and in 2017 he was nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His photography has featured in print in Low Light magazine from Hi-Vis Press as well as online at The Guardian, Riggwelter Press, SickLit Magazine and others. Jason is interested in the connections between still images and stories, how the art of fiction can inform the art of photography and vice-versa. Jason’s website is currently under construction. He tweets @jj_fiction.