Adventures into creative photography began in 1975 when it became clear that ideas could not be
encapsulated on the basic camera that I was struggling with. Much reading and a midnight sale in Aldgate, London resulted in a first SLR but once mastered I was again hampered by a camera ill-suited for my needs. Some serious saving ensued and aside from an all-black Pentax in the interim a favourable sterling yen exchange rate enabled the purchase of a much-coveted Olympus OM-1n. A second camera body followed together with a suite of zuiko lenses; I built my own darkroom and with the assistance from some extraordinary 35mm films and papers from both Ilford and Kodak, the last two decades of the 20th century were exciting times for the keen photographer.
Aside from learning that every frame was precious – purchase, develop and finally printing meant quite a considerable outlay financially – and notwithstanding both the time and effort invested, the basics hold as true today with digital as they did with film; composition, lens and lighting.
There was also another magic ingredient which was, and still is, vitally important – imagination.
During my 40+ years of creative output I have edited a youth magazine, provided graphic design for an international conference, wrote business manifestos for both design and IT companies, shot moody monochrome images for indie bands, supplied enigmatic imagery to a nightclub promoter, worked with models, brides and owners of sail boats, had photographic work published in the UK, Japan and USA – under the aegis of a renowned London agency – wrote and published a 15 year nature journal, painted landscape and seascape watercolours, originals of which have been sold while a variety remain available as digital prints across multiple media, designed book covers and provided art direction for commercial websites…and all because I had and still have a head full of ideas!
Imagination is a key factor, where does it come from and (why) does it matter.
When the mind turns its view inwards upon itself, thinking is the first that occurs. In it the mind observes a great variety of modifications, and from thence receives distinct ideas. When ideas float in our mind, without any reflection or regard of the understanding, it is that which is called reverie, our language has scarce a name for it; when the ideas that offer themselves are taken notice of, and, as it were, registered in the memory, it is attention.
JOHN LOCKE 1690
Of the things which I have been directly involved with, invariably many begat other creative ideas but outside of seeking a particular avenue or conduit for artistic ‘things’ I have a passion for words and the richness of the English language.
Unwittingly, perhaps, the colourful – not in a debase way – use of words by poets and authors from
centuries past have colluded with a circuit in my brain to push my imagination in more subtle ways.
The shutting out of surrounding objects, and the concentration of the whole attention…produces a dream-like exaltation…in which we seem to leave the body behind us and sail into one strange scene after another, like disembodied spirits.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES 1861
The internet, thriving as it does in lowercase and being a moveable feast where the power of speech
has run rough shod over the (solely) printed word has provided an open channel for access but it has
not replaced print entirely.
How many would-be searchers have gone further than the first few pages of a Google search? Precious few. Imagination is stifled by the commonplace (answers) whereas print which so readily defines written language from spoken language allows for a more indulgent response.
Our imagination feeds on the choice of words as it does upon the layout and the font. Much can be made from the well-intentioned pause, and much is understood by the purely visual communication of the (in)judicious use of uppercase letters…picture the boy whose father always speaks in capital letters.
So much is intuition and empathy and the ideas thus invoked prompts the retrieval from the family
library of a Jennings book so avidly read in childhood.
Digital can be relied upon to always provide an identical experience whereas print can also waken otherwise recumbent senses such as the olfactive sense. Not simply because a book might be old and/or foxed but the massive variation encountered with modern papers and inks; the scent can almost overwhelm on occasion even before a page is turned.
So yet another fine route to fire the creative energy that burns within.
My real judgement of my own work is that I have spoilt a number of jolly good ideas in my time.
G K CHESTERTON 1936
From scent to scale for an image of grandiose dimensions may not necessarily prove that all is art.
An image that can make a statement and is totally arresting when it is tiny can work at any size. For
some small artefacts the value lies in its intrinsic worth for miniscule becomes magical.