So having rolled this blog thing around my head, whilst simultaneously beginning the unbelievably huge project of scanning my over 40 years worth of slides and negatives, I haven’t had time to really transcribe my inner head workings, thus I’ve not written much here, yet.
But, something transpired during the week that has given me further insight into myself and my photography. As I’ve mentioned before it was only recently in the past few years that I’ve started to think about the “why” of my photography. The “what” & “how” was never in question and my “style” was apparent from the very beginning. It was always taken for granted and on a very superficial level that the “why” was because “it’s my passion/my thing/it’s what I do”.
I have a friend in England, a fellow photographer and computer graphic artist, who on seeing the photographs that I’ve scanned and published in flickr and on other photo forums recently in bigger numbers and within the context of groups/subjects/series, told me that my photography was photojournalism and story telling. For the first time I suddenly realised the “why” of my photography. My daughter Tali described it in her address at my exhibition, but neither she nor Mina, the exhibition curator, defined the “why” whilst I’ve never really ruminated on it. The people – camera connection was obvious and taken for granted, but it never went further then that.
It’s my inborn fascination of people/the human race that has brought me to my photography. My photography is my way of conveying my observations of humans. It’s my story-telling tool!
Ever since I can remember I’ve been a people watcher/observer. When I was a student, I would fetch my sister from work on my way home from Art School. She was a medical secretary in a large office block in downtown Johannesburg. I would purposely arrive about 45 minutes early so that I could sit in the lobby of the building and watch/observe/contemplate the people waiting for and getting in or out of the elevators. I was totally spellbound seeing the little things, the quirks, actions and reactions, idiosyncrasies, the general intercourse of and between these vertical voyagers. Literally the up and down behaviour. Over the years I have spent untold hours just sitting watching and regarding the ebb and flow of the human tide, of daily life.
Thus when I was introduced to the magic of the darkroom at Art School, it was a marriage made in heaven. My photography and my fascination of the human race. It was a completely natural evolution, meshing and joining, with one complimenting and making whole the other. I didn’t think about it ever. It was never planned or premeditated. It happened and was there, that’s it.
I’m not a “pretty picture/chocolate box” photographer. A picture that does not have a person in it somewhere, leaves me stone-cold. Scenery/natural history photography does not move me. I do appreciate talent, skill and good technique, but a waterfall, the desert, a bird on the bough, a bee pollinating a flower or the pride of lions at the kill does not warm my heart. It’s not Ansel Adams or Charlie Waite that turn me on, although I have great admiration and respect for their talent and skill. It is Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Sam Haskins, Annie Leibowitz, Dorothea Lange, Gary Winogrand, David Bailey, James Nachtwey, the Capa brothers, Magnum, Micha Ber-Am, David Rubinger, Karsh, Lord Snowdon, Rankin ocassionally and so on and so forth, the list is long – very long – that bring joy to my eyes, make my heart sing and float my boat.
So yes, she hit the nail right on the head. I’m a Photographic Story Teller. I tell visual stories about people and everyday life.