I had to recently write an artist biography for the exhibition at Atkins Photo Lab. I was advised that it would be helpful to explain to non-photographers why I make pictures of the places I do. It is something that I had not given much thought to for some time.
So why do I photograph in places many see as un-photographic? These places in some ways reflect my own feelings are about my ‘place in culture’. These places are “in-between” and incongruous. So perhaps this work is a larger self-portrait?
Not only are they geographically in-between, but also metaphorically and symbolically. These places often have weeds and other less than desirable plants growing. They can accumulate detritus, appear neglected and are always overlooked.
What do these places then say about us as a culture? We create them, so they mirror us in some ways. Our needs wants and desires. Yet many expect more inspirational pictures of the world around them. This reminds me then of a quote by Frederick Sommer.
“Some speak of a return to nature.
I wonder where they could have been?”
I also enjoy the challenge of making an interesting picture. This, in places that some would find difficult to do so. Making the scene’s tones a sumptuous as possible is a driving force too. Now after so many years of working this way, I have a collection of archival images which is useful for future projects.
The tactile side of the this process holds great merit in my mind as well. The act of preparing the film holders, mixing the chemicals, and setting up the enlarger, are all fun. They offer a sense of achievement that digital rarely gives me. Making objects also forms part of my DNA. So to go extended periods of time without making something is an anathema to me. A a part time educator sometimes weekends are adequate for this. But the term breaks in the middle of the year, when the light is at its best are very productive for me.