I am continuing to try to understand more about why I photograph. That seems perhaps an odd question for someone who has been taking photographs of one sort or another for probably 55 years. For most of that time (read, until this course) I have not really thought about it. I just have always enjoyed the process of using a camera to capture visually interesting light, form and subjects that were of interest to me. I don’t think that has changed, and while it is necessary to the explanation of why I photograph it seems it is not sufficient for the purpose of this course.
I have long and often been drawn to photograph places and the things that inhabit those places; places with which I have an affinity or relationship and places which alter visibly over time. Nature with its complexity, diversity, intrinsic beauty (not necessarily in terms of the picturesque, but in the intricacies of form and structural detail), and in its ever-changing states has long held fascination for me. It is to nature and the outdoors I retreat when in need of inspiration and re-creation and not to people and crowded urban or suburban spaces.
I also find myself in a position to potentially challenge the basic approach that I have taken to photography my entire life. I have always thought of myself as essentially a documentary photographer who works almost exclusively out of doors using natural light and in which people did not generally figure as primary subjects. I eschewed the idea of the camera as a mirror and I rather focused on being the best window I could manage to represent, within the limitations of my equipment, what I saw as faithfully as possible. I photographed only what was in front of my lens as it occurred naturally without intervention or construction on my part. I have never thought of myself as an artist nor did I aspire to been seen as one. I am also beginning to grasp that despite my best efforts to obscure myself behind the lens of indexicality, that I choose to not photograph people and mostly natural places perhaps speaks more loudly about me than I realised.
Some recent work, while fundamentally indexical, nevertheless appeared at first glance to be abstract. It consequently gave the feeling of more of a fine art photo. Other recent work has been far more metaphorical and intentionally ambiguous about its location, with the hope that it will evoke in the viewer a feeling, memory Now I am considering working outside with artificial light sources to create effects which can only be considered constructed and artistic in intention. I am not daunted by the prospect and in fact am looking forward to what it might yield, but at the same time it is quite a departure and I find myself asking how did this come about?
While that was fundamentally a rhetorical question, it is safe to say this course has been a factor pushing me in different directions both in terms of my practice, but also in the way that I think about and react to photographic work. I see differently as a result and that is affecting the way I see my practice.
Is it good? Perhaps too early to tell, but I can attest that the quality of my work has improved. The thoughtfulness behind each frame shot is far greater than ever before. It is probably more evolution than revolution and, that is a normal part of growth. I would not have undertaken this course if I had not been interested in growing and evolving so I would be disappointed if that were not occurring.
Where will it all lead? I haven’t a crystal ball, but stay tuned as it will no doubt be documented in these pages.