What is my INTENT as a PHOTOGRAPHER?

The first two modules, Positions and Practice….and Surfaces and Strategies, have moved me a long way forward in understanding what my photography is about. Going in to the MA I enjoyed taking landscapes and telling visual stories about places I went to. I was enthusiastically engaged in a satisfying hobby. As I enter in to Sustainable Prospects it is timely to ask what is my INTENT as a PHOTOGRAPHER?

As ever it is easier to say what I do not want to be than what I do want to be. I don’t want to be an enthusiastic hobbyist. I do want my image making to have meaning and to have an impact. Let’s consider where I am.

My project THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME started with the question ‘is there any pain in my life?’ I started with the deep emotional pain I suffer living with my wife who is chronically ill with Multiple Sclerosis. In terms of taking photographs I have used instants of pain as a trigger to pick up my camera and take photographs. I have also given a lot of thought to how I can represent my experience. An example below captures the thought that we all die one day and how impossible it is for us ever to completely understand ourselves.

I also followed my own emotional reaction to a visit to an abandoned village in Cyprus this year (Susuz). I was moved in a way I did not understand and set about trying to capture in images a sense of what I felt inside. This became my exhibition FORLORN in Landings and a physical exhibition at La Sella in Spain.

Both of these projects have had an impact on me and those around me. THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME has been therapeutic as taking images of myself has made me step outside of myself and see that thoughts are my problem and give me pain. The physical being of me looks in fine shape and this has been thought provoking. This project has also revealed something of me to my related audience of friends and people I know. It has taken them deeper than the surface image of smile and appearing to cope and showed a troubled soul falling in to extreme and close to fatal difficulty at times.

FORLORN has moved a lot of people who have seen it. It is an example of work I have done that has meaning for people. Many people used words ‘beautiful’ and ‘tragic’ together to describe their experience of the work. Everybody seemed to get the point that one day in the past people lived here and looked through these windows. People shiver if I suggest they imagine that these could be their own window.

This line of thinking suggests to me that I have achieved some meaning and impact with the work to date. However, both meaning and impact are very localised and very limited. So how can I ramp up?

In THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME I need to get deeper in to the narrative of what it is like to live with someone who is so chronically ill. It feels like in addition to taking images I need to do some writing and possibly some videos to explore further what is going on. Images can inform words and moving images and vice versa.

In FORLORN I can go further. A big ambition would be to take this story to Cyprus and for it to make a contribution to the debate about how Cyprus is returned to a state all of its islanders would prefer. This could start with getting a story and the images published in the Cyprus Times. Similarly an exhibition of the work in a strategic and significant gallery in Cyprus would be a way to make a conversation happen.

I feel forward movement and a raised heartbeat suggests some big ambition to pursue here. So here is where I have got to today.

The meaning of my work THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME is the pain of living with someone I love deeply who is chronically ill. The impact the work can have is to raise awareness of the difficulties the partners of ill people face and get them to understand such pain is normal but also to get more support to them.

The meaning of my work FORLORN is the tragic impact on human beings of a fractured country. The impact the work can have is to initiate a conversation for action to put Cyprus back together again. That is BIG. It will upset some people and stir up some emotions. This seems like a good example of what Professional Photography can do.

During this module I can develop these ideas further. Appropriate to the module Sustainable Prospects I will add the further constraint of getting the work funded. If my work has genuine meaning and can have an impact then someone should be willing to fund it.

I realise both projects are ambitious and I will have to make choices about how I proceed in to 2020.

So the intent of my photography is to create visual narratives that through the meaning they offer lead to action to improve significantly the situation of those in my chosen narrative.

This means a lot to do!

Let’s do it.

Categories: Contextual Research SP, Project Development SP, Sustainable Prospects

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.