Dérive: The Art of Getting Lost.
Losing your way in the hope of discovering something new.
Yesterday I organised, for the first time, a Dérive in Bath for our local photography group.
A dérive uses prompts to get lost around a familiar city in the hope of discovering something new.
Below are the prompts I created (with help from the Derivé app) to help us lose our way. But remember… “these are simply suggestions. Adjust these ideas, make your own, or ditch the rules altogether!”
Included are a selection of my photos based on the prompts. I wouldn’t normally share any of these photos - they are ok, but that is all. However, the derivé did what it promised. I noticed things I hadn’t seen before.
I hope it inspires one or two of you to try this in your city. Let me know how you get on.
Pick any direction and walk in a straight line (if you hit an obstacle, turn left). After 100 paces take a photo of what is in front of you.
Turn down the next street that begins with a vowel. Photograph something that moves.
At the next opportunity turn right. Photograph the oldest and the newest building on the street.
Head in the noisiest direction and find somewhere to take a self portrait.
Wave and smile at the next surveillance camera. Photograph it. Turn left.
Find a place to sit for five minutes. Watch the world go by. Take photos. Walk to the subject that most captivates you and take at least three more from different angles.
Turn 90 degrees and walk on. Take portraits of the people you are with.
Go north until you see something red or yellow. Or both. Take its photo.
Take two lefts and photograph the middle of the road. If it’s safe to do so.
Find a fancy car. Photograph a close-up detail and then follow the direction its front wheels are pointing.
Take the next right and photograph something wonderful.
Turn around. Find something that no longer works. Photograph from different angles.
Meander to a nearby tree. Photograph it close up and far away.
Take a typical photo of the city.
And then photograph something discarded or lost.
Follow a phone user. When they put their phone away, look down or up and take an interesting photo.
Stand somewhere and photograph a passer-by.
Walk until you notice something unreasonable. Document your experience.
Go west. Continue until you want to photograph something. You choose the subject. It’s a free world.
Dérive is a close cousin to the flâneur. Perhaps a dérive is more active with an added sense of rebelliousness and humour. Whereas a flâneur is a more languid observer.introduced me to the book ‘Errance’ by Raymond Depardon. Shamefully I’m not able to read a whole book in French but he says it’s a similar concept.
Here is more information about the concept and history of dérive.
If you’d like to give this a go, please feel free to download the prompts we used last night.
All photos taken on my trusty Leica Q on Thursday 10th August 2023.