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Redeye's Portfolio image review of the month

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Choose an image from the portfolio, they said. And so I trawled, imagining I might be a client, a commissioner, challenging the drop-down menus to find me a photographer I might write about.

That single thumbnail has to do so much. The viewer needs to be curious enough to click through to the portfolio and then, hopefully, onto a website or Flickr page.

Daniel Shiel's thumbnail is of what exactly? The metal side of an industrial building? Rusting shipping containers? Garage doors? It’s ambiguity at that size drew me to his portfolio page.

My choice for this review is ‘Lido’, an intriguing composite image that, like many in this series, makes you look more than twice. Is that real? you briefly consider. Has the artist researched and discovered some offbeat, decrepit location? No, of course not, but he has expertly photographed and stitched together a number of bizarre locations to create this unreality. And the grumpy face in line with the orange door just makes it.

The other images in his collection are equally beguiling. Doorways, windows, graffiti and yet more striking corrugated sheets come together in photographs with an undefined scale. Dig deeper into his website to discover an exemplary use of colour, pattern and texture that is, it seems, proving popular with both curators and competition judges.

Shiel says he is an archaeologist specialising in geophysical proscription for archaeological sites. Sounds fascinating. I am surmising he has managed to combine his profession with his artistic passion. It’s what they say to writers: ‘write about what you know’ and Daniel Shiel has shown us how to do that with some originality.

In deciding what to focus on, we photographers sometimes overlook what’s in front of us. Familiarity too often equals invisibility. Do you have access to places or people that others do not? What personal experiences do you have that could influence or inform your work? (Check out Sandra Bouguerch’s new work portraying her father as part of the ‘Risk’ exhibition at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale).

Thank you Daniel Shiel for reminding us that the most productive subject matter can be right in front of us. Your ‘lifetime observing landscapes’ has certainly paid off in these captivating images.

Len Grant is a freelance photographer and writer.
www.lengrant.co.uk

http://www.redeye.org.uk/opinion/portfolio-image-review-month-len-grant-daniel-shiel-lido