About the Artist - Rob Clayton
"To my baby girl,
You are my inspiration, and I love you more than you'll ever know.
Stay curious, stay funny, stay beautiful,
I haven’t always dreamed of being a photographer.
But I did always have an appreciation for art, and used to rather fancy myself as a bit of an artist in the traditional sense. The only drawback being that I can’t actually draw to any acceptable standard.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I effectively stumbled across photography whilst stood on the side of a muddy football pitch on a wet and windy Sunday morning (true story!).
It was actually my initial aim to develop my camera skills until I had become the UK's top combat sports photographer.
But my beautiful baby girl was born in 2012 and, finding myself with actual responsibilities, I had to focus on more profitable ventures than the local MMA scene was affording at the time.
So I began moving into weddings and event photography, which is where I feel my true professional development began.
But I had had an idea when I first began taking photography more seriously that just never quite went away.
Very shortly after buying my first professional camera and lens, and still very much in the honeymoon phase of my new hobby/profession, I had also bought my young nephew a bubble wand from the local supermarket - a small, but somewhat consequential, investment as it turns out.
And so it was while bored at home one day I decided to find out just how large the bubbles could get.
But with the very first bubble I was quickly captivated by its spectacular, constantly-changing colours - they were nothing short of beautiful.
Photography was forcing me to look at everything in new ways, and it seemed in that moment as if I had never truly looked at and appreciated the majesty of a simple bubble - a feeling I aim to inspire with Real Bubble.
So my next step was to reach for my camera and to simply try and capture those colours.
It was only once I got my pictures onto my computer screen that something else surprised me even more....I realized for the first time that I had a reflection of the room around me in the bubble.
My little nephew with that very first bubble wand I bought for
him....little cutie (he's a bit bigger now, mind)
One of my very first bubbles, taken back in June 2010
And just like that I was stopped in my tracks.
It wasn’t a perfect reflection. It was out-of-focus, refracted and distorted, but still completely recognizable as the room around me.
A few more attempts with a few more bubbles corrected the first issue, but I soon realized that the distortion and refraction actually made the resulting image that much more intriguing.
From there, it was but a small step to heading out to Manchester city centre, to see what results I’d achieve capturing reflections in bubbles.
I went to the bottom of market street, outside the Royal Exchange, by the old Manchester Wheel, outside Victoria Station, and I even spent 4 hours outside Old Trafford being gawked at by bemused tourists as I chased after bubbles that seemed so desperate to elude me.
The results pleased me, but not enough. I felt the equipment I was using at the time was lacking, as was my general photography and editing skills and knowledge.
But more than that, I felt the project was lacking a purpose, a reason d'être. And so it got put on the back burner, shelved but never quite forgotten.
Fast forward a couple of years to the birth of my baby girl, Scarlett, and I found myself gradually revisiting the concept, mulling over the different interpretations one could take over the resulting images.
And as she has grown, the concept has crystallised.
Young minds can connect dots and make connections that we, as adults entrenched in the every day grind, often simply miss or have become accustomed to ignoring.
We get stuck in conventional ways of viewing and assessing the world, but then a child comes along with a completely fresh approach and once again we are forced to consider possibilities and ideas beyond our normal scope of reasoning.
My daughter's inquisitive nature was leading me to question ideas, concepts, principles and beliefs I had for so long either taken for granted, or never even considered.
The parallels between her ability to find otherwise mundane subjects fascinating, and viewing everyday scenes in a completely new light with my 'Real Bubble' images, eventually became too obvious to deny.
The most beautiful girl I've ever known
Cue a lot of bubble research, even more bubble mixing, testing, remixing and retesting, and I was off, with a new focus and motivation.
My bubble taking and catching techniques have been refined over and over, and I have gotten to know bubbles in more detail, and their nature more intricately, than I ever thought likely. And have had a lot of fun doing so.