Taking photographs

September 10, 2010

So. The first question. Why do I take photographs?

Since I asked myself that question for the first time in a long time last week, I’ve been mulling it over and haven’t come up with any neat Garry Winogrand-rivalling epithets (‘I photograph to see what something will look like photographed’), but I’ve started to form a list.

It looks something like this:

  1. I take photographs because it’s an instinct, just as making notes is an instinct. It’s a way of saving a scene, remembering something for later.
  2. The things I’m drawn to are broadly-ephemeral objects, spaces and details, invariably in places that it’s hard to return to for one reason or another – it’s a one-time offer on a moment.
  3. Because a crisp black and white image is like a drawing with a good sharp pencil.

I’ve been taking photographs for about fifteen years now, and though, because I use film, my output isn’t as prolific as some digital photographers, I’m increasingly aware of the pile of moments mounting up in boxes and drawers. I’m starting to think about that pile of pictures, and am thinking about those moments and how one might stretch them to fill a space longer than a heartbeat or the blink of an eye. Yes, they tend to be about details, but details can linger in the mind.

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On sharing thinking

September 01, 2010

I’m currently on a course in Liverpool, delivered by Redeye and the Open Eye Gallery. The course is called Lightbox and it’s aimed at emerging photographers, of whom there are forty of us –  it seeks to challenge and expand our thinking about our photographic practice, and is billed in some quarters as a ‘five day MA’.

The learning is intense but the inspiration is relentless.

One talk, by Chris Hammond of Full Circle Arts, asked a lot of questions of the participants, around our motivation for taking photographs, what we get out of it, and who we share it with – all good prompts for thinking to share over some subsequent posts.

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