'Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst' Henri Cartier-Bresson
A self taught photographer, I was born in 1959 and grew up on Anglesey, an island just off mainland North Wales. My earliest recollection of looking at photographs was the photojournalism in the Sunday Times magazine. I remember in particular an article about the different shopping habits of rich and poor families, with photos of the weekly shop laid out around family members. Lost to me now, those photos still fill me with curiosity about the way things are in the world.
When I was 8 I was given a Box Brownie camera by my grandparents. I didn't actually take any photos with it, but the idea of making photographs stuck with me. At 17 I used the earnings from a summer's work to buy a modern SLR camera and took many photos, none of which have survived. But I do remember one, a photo of a yacht marooned in the garden of a bungalow near where I lived. I was beginning to look at real photos, and the composition was heavily influenced by the photos I'd been looking at.
I went to university where I studied medicine. I didn't take photos, but studied them - Henri-Cartier Bresson, Chris Killip, Helen Levitt, Josef Koudelka, Andre Kertesz, Diane Arbus, William Klein, Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, and Ian Berry, especially his book 'The English'. Almost all the photos in this collection are remarkable, but two particularly were unforgettable: Whitby (on the right here), and Man and Daughter. More than anything they made me want to visit the places in the photos. Martin Parr's series about New Brighton was captivating, and led to Tony Ray-Jones. Most of all, Raymond Moore showed the unending mystery in the world, in the same way as the photos in WG Sebald's books do for me now.
Photography is a means of sifting or abstracting visual phenomena - it can be solely concerned with conveying factual information about objects in a particular position in time and space - or it can convey an awareness or revelation of the marvellous. Raymond Moore
Abandoning medical studies, I started work in a community bookshop in Cardiff called 108 Bookshop. The shop stocked Camerawork magazine. I started to take photos, used the community darkroom on Salisbury Road near the bookshop. I have only memories of the photos I took in the early 1980s: a multi-coloured derelict bandstand in the grounds of Whitchurch mental hospital; an unintentionally blurred image of a CND supporter resting on a park bench; the cover photo for a Living Legends single. I attended Chris Torrance's writing class; helped with the editing of a documentary called Rumours at the Miners Fortnight, took a course in film making with Chris Monger, and made a film about the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp with the photographer Dom Joyeux. I applied for the position of community photographer at St Donat's Art Centre without success. I gave up bookselling, film-making and photography when I moved to Devon with a friend and her daughter. I trained as a librarian and worked shifts packing pharmaceuticals and self-published a book of short stories with photos by Howard Snowdon. After 4 years in Devon I moved to London and then Bristol, where I worked in medical research and IT, setting up the National electronic Library for Health with Muir Gray and completing a PhD in the history of science. Then a stint at Canon Frome Court.
Now I make photos again. I like the accessibility and instant feedback from photos taken on an Iphone but long for a real camera. (update - I have one! - a Fujifilm x10) I like to take photos of human landscapes. All too easily I see the influence of the photographs that have inspired me as I try to develop my own visual language. Something about this Allonby photo moves me in a way I can't really describe. A perfect photo for me. More photographic inspiration here.
The 365 project
The 365 project is a way of bringing some discipline to taking photos, through a simple rule in which a photograph should be taken each day.
Many of the photos say nothing more than 'I was here'. But sometimes through luck or composition something more emerges. The project runs until summer 2015. A selection of the photos are included here.
Newnham on Severn
Chelva, Spain 2017