Monday, 26 January 2009

It was over 170 years ago that Henry Fox Talbot created permanent images using paper soaked in silver chloride and fixed with a salt solution, shortly afterwards patenting his process as a "calotype". In a similar time-frame, Louis Daguerre created images on silver-plated copper, coated with silver iodide and ‘develop’ with warmed mercury – the Daguerreotype process.
The excitement to have been able to create an image without using paint or canvas, this new extraordinary mix of science and alchemy, might well have seemed to many all that time ago that both Talbot and Daguerre were dabbling in magic. They may well have been the magicians of yesteryear, but who are the magicians of today?

Photography is no longer the pastime of the few, nor is it the travail of the lone enthusiast in his darkroom breathing the dull fumes of harsh chemicals. It is now within everybody’s compass to create an image of depth, an image of significance and an image of beauty.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

As I struggle with my tax return and listen to the news of ongoing economic gloom, I see a light on the horizon.

Friday, 16 January 2009

I am a member of the Chelsea Physic Garden. I visit often but not often enough. My favourite time is in the Winter when it is closed to the public. The focus of the Garden changes. It is more peaceful. It is less about colour, smell and life and more about shape, form and death. The stark silhouette of the decaying plants have an ephemeral beauty of their own.

I thought I would start my my blog by posing the question. Do we really need another blog about photography and image making?

I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the wealth of fantastic work produced by my contemporaries and predecessors. It can cause camera shutter paralysis. This sense that there is no point. It has all been done before and done superbly to boot. I go to as many exhibitions as time permits, collect photography books and browse the internet constantly. I do wonder whether I would be better off shutting myself away for a while. Working in splendid isolation with nothing but my own thoughts for company.

In an interview Chris Buck said:

"I believe there are two kinds of photographers. There are those who look at other peoples work and there are those who don't. I'm not one to look at someone else's work. I find it more distracting than helpful. I tend to be generous with young photographers and I'm open to meeting with people but I don't really look at my competitors work."

Alec Soth picks up on this in his blog:

"Though I wouldn't use the word 'competitor', I also wonder if seeing too much contemporary work is problematic. I once had an assistant, Phillip Carpenter, who said something I'll never forget. Phil started off as a musician in Nashville. He was surrounded by a ton of talent and learned about everything going on. But this knowledge, he said, was eventually damaging. Phil explained that the best musicians often come from nowhere. They are in their parent's basement in Idaho, don't really know how to hold the guitar, and consequently develop their own peculiar sound. So here is the question: If limitation spawns creativity, is the limitless resource of the Internet a good thing? Does it do more harm than good to read all these blogs?"

Is it time to switch off?