Turning the camera is good advice. Advice that was often heard in the halls and classrooms of the Photojournalism program I completed ten years ago. Wow, ten years. There has been a lot of mileage racked up in that time and a lot of turning of cameras. Perhaps there is no coincidence that within a year of graduating I was shooting 360 degree panoramic images for hospitality and tourism clients, and in traveling the globe for a lot of that work, the world continued to turn under me. Somehow I don’t think my instructors meant their advice so literally. It was also a huge turn from working at a newspaper and though I no longer do that kind of work there are days when I miss both experiences; telling stories and capturing moments to be shared on newsprint and looked at by perhaps hundreds of thousands of readers and producing images capturing elements of style, design and far off places of luxury.
If you’ve been looking at my photos, or have looked through a few of my galleries, you may have already guessed that I have a strong interest in cycling, it goes back to childhood. One of the lessons that wasn’t taught when I was at school was that it wasn’t enough to be interested in photography alone. Photographers need to be interested and curious about the world they live in whether surrounded by family, food, design, heartbreak or even cycling. Start by photographing what you love and what you are passionate about and let the rest unfold. If you don’t like what you see try changing your perspective, try turning your camera. I shot this image in Whistler, BC on a sunny Saturday in May, and to capture this frame I had to take that advice from so many years ago. I turned the camera. In this case I turned it straight up.
Though Lucie & Simon hardly need me to share their work, in my quest to rediscover what inspires me about photography their short film ‘Silent World’ stirred my curiosity. Years ago I read Alan Weisman’s truly fantastic ‘The World Without Us’ and it left an indelible impression of the crumbling artifacts of human ingenuity and hubris once humans were removed from the equation. There is a similar spirit in ‘Silent World’. Without getting into the what, why and how of ‘Silent World’, what struck me was seeing streets, many I have walked myself, so familiar in appearance, but so totally different in experience.
What happens when you largely remove human beings from the human world, when you remove man from what is man made? Has the scale of our cities become inhuman and is it possible to illustrate that with a camera? What I find most remarkable about “Silent World’ is the disconnect between appearance and experience. Having walked through Paris and New York I recognize these streets, intersections, buildings and landmarks but my experience is remembered as being elbow to elbow wrapped in a cacophonous blanket of noise. Appearance or Experience; what makes a city what it is? This is New York but it is also clearly not the New York that any of us know, and this is the magic of photography.
Check out ‘Silent World’ on Vimeo Here:
Check out more of Lucie & Simon’s work here:
Photographer Ian Ruther’s Video Silver & Light came up in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago and I was deeply amazed by what I saw. Silver & Light showed up at a time when I was lost in thought about the value of digital photography. In truth nearly every frame I have shot professionally has been shot with a digital camera and saved to a hard drive as a collection of ones and zeros, not a strip of negatives or a slide slipped into a sleeve, into a binder and onto a shelf. I still have a loupe and a collection of cameras which will shoot film if I can find the time to make that happen. Recently I loaded a nearly new, yet ten year old Nikon F100 with a roll of Tri-X with the intention of shooting some portraits. I will get around to this but it seems like one of those things on the get around to it list like hanging a head board, fixing the drawer in the kitchen and shampooing the engine bay of the car I drive. I would like to shoot film, I would like to do it with some regularity before I loose the option, I would like to shoot 36 frames each one deliberate and considered knowing each frame shot to test light or composition is one less that will count in the take.
Silver & Light is a reminder that there was once something magical about photography and the way chemistry, metal, glass and light conspired together to capture the reflected light of our world. Ruther is not a throwback, but rather a Historian practicing Alchemy to preserve a medium and reframe how we see photography. I often wonder if modern photography has become too much about the technology and too little about the methodology, that it has become too easy, too cheap. I just listened to a BBC Podcast in which UK Photojournalist Nick Danziger suggested that limiting digital devices, iPhones, iPads, Mobile Phones to one photograph a day could make the world a more interesting and captivating place. I think Ian Ruther’s work is a perfect embodiment of Danziger’s idea.
Watch the video: