Our evolution as photographers can be dependant on many things: the influences that guide us, the enjoyment we take from the craft, new experiences (be they travel or a chance meeting), connecting with a particular landscape; the spark of creativity can hit us anytime, any place. Personally, I started to take photography more seriously in 2012. Perhaps seriously is the wrong description; I should probably say that I became consumed by photography at that time.
My parents were professional photographers but I had no desire to become one myself, possibly due to being an assistant to my Dad at weddings, surely enough to put off any introverted soul. I did however enjoy many hours in the darkroom with Dad, working on more favourable creative work, so photography had always been there. I much preferred drawing and painting as a child and this continued into early adulthood. I attended art college for four years. I'd sell my drawings and paintings in local art shops, anything went, landscapes, portraits, still life. I often wonder about those artworks made over twenty years ago and it's a nice feeling to think that they're hanging on people's walls; they take on a new existence, becoming a part of that person's life. I can't think what my motivation was back then as an artist. There was no plan, no series of images, no structure; I simply enjoyed the act of drawing and painting. It was a meditative escape. Being in my early twenties the bit of cash I made from those artworks will have been frittered down the pub!
Eventually, I stopped making any kind of artworks at all. The rest of my twenties to mid-thirties were spent adventuring, cycling (road and mountain), white water rafting, hill walking, wild camping, kick boxing and generally being obsessed with pushing myself physically. At age 34 I became ill. I've documented this previously so won't go into detail but this is when my life began to drift down a different path. I embarked on a conservation degree as I'd always wanted to know more about this planet that we inhabit and in some small way I wanted to 'put something back'. The conservation degree was a real eye opener to the interconnectedness of all life. These profound feelings and love for the natural world have always been there, since I visited the North York Moors as a kid. Studying for my degree was the spark that led me to pick up a camera and begin to document what I was seeing, whilst surveying the land during my degree. I haven't looked back, and armed with my newly acquired knowledge of the natural world I've been exploring with my camera ever since. I've travelled from the most southerly to the most northerly parts of the UK, witnessing our diverse and beautiful land in all of its glorious seasons. Importantly, my long dormant creative side had been reawakened.
I believe that we are all potential artists and have been shaping our own individual way of seeing since we first opened our eyes on the world. The comics we read as a kid, the pop culture, art, movies, literature and music we encounter along the way, all shape us to develop a unique vision of the world. After picking up a camera, there is an initial learning, experimentation and trying to find a pleasing aesthetic. I look back at early images and wonder what the heck I was doing. We all go through that phase. I did however develop a style pretty quickly, a style which has been honed over recent years and that I refer to as a Visual Mantra. I've been heavily influenced by Japanese Art and the use of negative space, using both colour and black & white, quite often long exposure. Of late however, I'm often preferring to work in an evermore simplified way, without a tripod and filters and all of those things that we think we need when we embark on the landscape photography path. I guess additionally that's the point, I'm not just interested in landscape. People, places, stories all becoming the major attraction for me.
"I believe that we are all potential artists and have been shaping our own individual way of seeing since we first opened our eyes on the world."
It's certainly not that I’m at a crossroads or lacking in direction. The problem has become that there are too many directions, too many ideas running wild in my head. The solution has dawned on me to put some kind of constraints in place. I want to concentrate on form, light and tone. It's something that I've wanted to do for some years, the obvious choice for me is to shoot monochrome only for a year. I've been too scared previously, thinking what if I get a month in to the project and it's not working for me, yet I have to see it through?
That fear has gone. The photographers that I admire the most, such as Ragnar Axelsson, Daido Moriyama, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Michael Kenna, to name but a few, all shoot predominantly in black & white. What's one year out of my photographic career to commit to this plan! It may end up being permanent, though I doubt that. I imagine that after 2020 I will come back to colour with renewed vigour and maybe explore its possibilities further, gradually allowing it back in to my images with subtlety.
For any commercial work I will still be working in colour to the client's requirements. This project is for my own personal work and will encompass everything: landscape, travel, portrait and more.