Work Within the Constraints of Choice

It may come as a surprise to some people but I stand in awe of photographers like my friend Fiona (http://instagram.com/f_kennaugh) who can make emotionally evocative images with the simplest of motifs. I can usually replicate any photographer’s style but her style has always eluded me. But I am who I am and so accept my limitations.

I work within the confines of the rules of photography, not because I am a pedant, but because I enjoy the challenge of bending the rules to their breaking point, just to see what is possible, what can be done, although I know that every possible connotation of making a photograph has been done a million times before and that it’s a bit like Cervantes’ Don Quixote tilting at windmills, still: I persist.

I especially like urban landscapes that are full of people. Landscapes where people are dwarfed almost to the point of insignificance by the sheer size of what they construct.

In my early days I became aware of Kandinsky’s theory of tension within the frame, and while the thoughts of a painter from the early 20th century may seem insignificant today, his lessons are on display everywhere you look. Frames within frames, interlocking objects that I see as a type of dance, a milieu of constant motion frozen for the moment, like a glance at something that surprises, that as you see it changes, a moment which will never be repeated.

Helen Levitt said that she “chooses subject matter spontaneously, as though the subject chooses her, like by a magnet”. I think this is very true for me as well. I often leave home with a clear idea about what I want but return with something completely different.

I think this is one of the wonders of photography, its ability to surprise those who think they can control it.

 

50mm, f7.1, 1/60sec, ISO100

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