Something has just happened. Anything from a grand dinner for 20 to an argument between lovers, a painter painting a picture, or a cup of tea spilt. Photography has a great power to suggest, and the human mind loves to look at pictures and reconstruct the What? How? and Why? of an event we haven't witnessed, however banal. For this assignment we're asking you to exploit our natural interest in working things out by either showing or constructing the traces of something in the moments just after it's finished – for example, following the grand dinner, a table filled with dessert plates smeared with the colourful remnants of trifle, or after the argument, tears on the cheeks of one of the protagonists. There is often an emotional charge in images of the 'leftovers' of an event, so there's lots of potential to create something quietly dramatic. Your image could be as simple as recording the seconds after the arrival of a Christmas tree at the recycling centre, sadly stripped of its festive finery, or it might be worth setting up outside a busy shop, cinema or bookmakers to record the moments just after the doors shut for the evening. You could also construct a 'just happened' event of your own, for example, the smash of a cup after it gets knocked onto the floor, or the flying-up of a coat and scarf as a friend comes back down to the ground after jumping in the air at the park – a sense of mystery isn't a requirement, the point is to show some evidence that the viewer can use to 'work back' to a very particular something having happened.
This assignment offers lots of potential for exploring the world with fresh eyes during January, looking for evidence of things that have happened. Keep a camera on you as often as possible, and start to see your surroundings in a new way. And having sought inspiration and images in the real world, you may decide to go one step further and set up a more deliberate shot yourself. There are no specific technical notes for this assignment as the breadth of scope means that the technical requirements will vary for each person. As ever, ensure that you get a sharp shot by using a fast enough shutter speed, or using a tripod or flash where necessary, and when post-processing your image pay good attention to the whole of the image for anything that needs tidying up or cropping before submitting.
Winners of the Expert and Crowd votes: Beneath The Roses by Gregory Crewdson.
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