I am working on the next book from CRB which is due out in June. Just spent many hours indexing all 639 contact sheets from the “Farmwork” project ready for the final edit. The photographs were taken between 1984 and 1986. Looking through them brought back lot of memories. From all the snow pictures it looks like January 1986 was cold!
Over the last 3 years I have been photographing the limestone quarries and works in Derbsyhire. Much of this is within a few miles of my house centred around the town of Buxton.
I started the project as a reaction to contemporary landscape photography which is usually about perfect images of pristine natural land devoid of human activity. There is often denial of the effects of human habitation and how it has shaped the countryside.
Living in what is reputed to be the second most visited national park in the world there are obvious conflicts between industry and ‘the view’. That creates problems between what people expect to see when they visit the countryside and what is actually before their eyes especially as national parks are promoted as the epitome of the perfect landscape.
It is a strange irony that quarrying in the Peak District is inevitable as the rock that formed the hills is used to build the infrastructure of modern life. For every new house, road, railway or shopping centre there is a corresponding hole in the ground.
By producing large colour photographs I want to engage the audience and suggest links between the source of raw materials used in the construction industry and the landscape that provides them. Quarries can have their own stark beauty, they are part of an inhabited, working landscape.
Buxton Museum and Art gallery are exhibiting the photographs from 6 February to 12 April 2016. There will be a programme to support the exhibition including talks and other public engagement events. I want to show the exhibition at other places around the region and am currently exploring suitable venues. A book of the project is also planned.
I have just launched a Kickstarter project to raise funds for the final stage of the project – the exhibition. Please help if you can there are some good rewards.
Why is it that galleries, competitions, bursaries and other opportunities often say they are looking for ‘emerging talent under 35’? What about the increasing number of students who join undergrad and postgrad courses who will be well over 35 when they graduate? Are they instantly consigned to the scrap heap? Do they not even get a chance to ‘emerge’? It is about time that emerging talent was just that with no age discrimination just selection on ability.
“If you’re young and have the time, go and study. Study anthropology, sociology, economy, geopolitics. Study so that you’re actually able to understand what you’re photographing. What you can photograph and what you should photograph.”
For me photography has always been a medium for expressing ideas and feelings about a subject. That involves research and understanding about what is being photographed. The other side is understanding the medium enough to get the shots that you see. It is not an easy process, nor is it instant, but if you want good pics that speak to people then do the work.
The message is study your subject to gain knowledge and, I would add, study photography to know how to communicate what you feel. Having been round a few photography degree shows recently it was obvious which courses encouraged students to do just that.
The full article can be found here
There was an interview with Don McCullin on BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live on 22 March 2014. It’s available on BBC iplayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ygtz0
McCullin was probably the best war photographer around in the 70s, 80s, 90s.
In “Bending the frame; photojournalism, documentary and the citizen” Fred Ritchin says that photographers have to adapt or die, i.e. we have to embrace digital technology and accept that there new ways of making and using photographs. The book is an interesting read and is available from the Aperture book shop here
He says is that the old days of photojournalism where staff photographers worked for a publication taking photographs for articles or news pages are over. With newspapers sacking their photographers and giving camera phones to reporters there is evidence that major changes are afoot!
Of course this applies mainly to commercial photojournalism but does it also impact on not-for-profit documentary photographers? If we have something to say and want to reach a wide audience then we need to use ways of showing/publishing our work that fits with modern culture. It might even be more interesting and more fun!
This infographic shows just how things have changed.
“Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.”
[From: Noam Chomsky, http://targetedindividualscanada.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/noam-chomsky/]