A Story Behind A Photograph by Annie Lee

On Photography

Annie Lee shares a story behind her photograph Sip, and Feel Yourself Become the Warmth of the Setting Sun.

Sip, and Feel Yourself Become the Warmth of the Setting Sun by Annie Lee

Golden hour is different when you’ve not been out of the house for weeks. I am walking lazily to the kitchen to rehydrate, after a long Netflix binge in bed. It’s the late afternoon. I am aware that while I’m relaxing, munching away on freshly baked biscuits and sipping a smoothie, my dad is busy redecorating the dining room and kitchen – reviving it after years of grease and grime has built up on the walls and ceiling.

The sideboard stands in the room, not shoved against the wall for the first time in years, and the translucent plastic dust sheet temporarily replaces our collection of plants and miscellaneous mess scattered on its surface. Smaller details include light fittings that hang out of the ceiling, and the tiny nail that once held a lino print. They indicate something missing – an absence – and yet, they remind me of physical activity; interactions of life at home.

I notice the sun is starting to set, which floods the dining room with light. Despite the lack of furnishings, it fills this environment with so much warmth. Looking at this photograph, I am immediately taken back to the moment where I knew I had to capture this on film. Typical British weather dictates that ‘golden hour’ is sometimes ‘golden minute’ – you never know when a cloud could come in and ruin the shot. I leapt up the stairs and retrieved my camera, hoping the light wouldn’t fade before I made it back. I remember scrambling to adjust the settings (a little out of breath from the impromptu workout) and frantically framing the shot. The final photograph is interesting because it contains stillness and maybe emptiness, but for me, behind the scenes, it feels like the complete opposite.   

Although no one appears in this image, it reveals someone who has been hard at work. It captures a spontaneous moment in time, which feels intimate and personal. The viewer doesn’t know about the stacks of candles gifted over the years, that as a family we removed from the sideboard the night before. They’re not aware of the fridge that lies to the right, outside of the photograph, that contains an amalgamation of food and ingredients to suit a complicated array of diets. And yet, I like how it also has the potential to be felt universally. So much DIY equipment has been bought over lockdown, people have undergone so much change. Along with its title Sip, and Feel Yourself Become the Warmth of the Setting Sun (a line from my friend Beth Burchet’s work), this photo really encompasses some of that.

- Annie Lee