New Year, New Venture.

I am writing this on New Year’s Eve 2016. Happy New Year, let’s hope 2017 is a better one.

I moved into the gallery in Kendal during June 2015 so we are 18 months down the line. It was always with a plan to make more prints for collector’s walls and to push forward my workshops. That has been successful to some degree but there are an awful lot of collectors who will not get to the gallery and I have been asked by several people if I can make my prints available online, so here you go…

You can find them all by opening the “Shop” tab, you’ll also find my workshops in there as well, you can order prints in two sizes as well as book your space on a workshop. Alternatively, as you are browsing my portfolios you can click the highlighted captions that will take you through to the page in the store for that image. 

I’ll be delighted to print for you. In time all of the images from “The Momentous Decision”, “Miracles of the One Thing and Other Stories from the Emerald Tablet” and “A Curious Gaze” will be available to purchase from this site. For now it is just those that have the caption highlighted, including Lowestoft #14.

The Momentous Decision

“The Momentous Decision” is a collection of work that draws from my archive. 

My preferred way of working as an artist is to spend time with my camera, usually just one camera and one lens, and I wander. I like to walk alone and observe. Sometimes in a city or big town or resort. When I am surrounded by people their behaviour dominates my attention. The environment becomes less significant, unless in relationship to the human presence. What results from those outings are the basis of the work I have collected on here and called “A Curious Gaze”. 

Other times I go out when there are fewer people around, on a Sunday, in the evening or early morning or in thinly populated small towns and villages but especially on the edge of those places, liminal landscapes, something between rural and urban. As someone who has spent a lot of time photographing architecture in a professional capacity, I am drawn to built environments and architectural shape and with fewer people I can concentrate on the spirit of the place. That is how I approached the work in “The Momentous Decision” and “Miracles of the One Thing”.

I initially began to sequence “The Momentous Decision” in late 2007 and first showed it as an exhibition at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal in January 2009. I produced a Blurb book as a catalogue as well. At that time I wrote this…

The history of photography is full of decisive moments, events that have shaped history, informed, shocked, amazed and entertained. 

The images I have collated into this body of work do not appear to be about events or decisive moments. They do not particularly inform, amaze or entertain; they certainly will not change the world and I hope they will shock nobody. 

The subjects of these photographs are unremarkable, not dramatic but everyday and mundane. 

These moments are just as decisive as the moment before and the moment after, each image is a significant event that constantly occurs. In a quiet and still fraction of a second I aim to portray the beauty that exists in our everyday.

The work is a reference to the history of photography itself but it is also very much about the way I look at the world. 

I want to reprint and frame the work for a new exhibition tour. I would also like to produce a much better printed book of the work and invite someone to write a response to the images. My intention then is to set up a national tour of exhibition venues. I hope to combine the tour with gallery talks and workshops at each of the venues. 

As with all things it costs money and although I will do my best to secure Arts Council funding to frame and transport the exhibition and publish the book, I have an expensive task of making and proposing to do first. I need to raise £2,250 to make the work ready to show to galleries, prepare dummies to present to publishers and put together a funding application.

I make traditional silver gelatin prints on fibre based paper of all my work, they are each archival processed, so I double fix, hypo clear, selenium tone and individually wash the prints before they are gently air dried. I work on 20”x16” paper and the image area is 18”x12”. To fund my ideas I am offering a one off chance to buy a print for just £75. They sell in the gallery for 3 times that figure, so it really is an investment opportunity. The prints will come in an acid free archival sleeve, signed and dated on the reverse. I will package them as securely as I can. The numbers feel very convenient. I need to raise £2250 so at £75 each, I need to sell 30 prints, there are 30 images in the series. However, I am making this offer for any of the images on this site.

If you would like a print (or several) and you would like to help me get this show on the road and the book published please send me an E mail to [email protected] Tell me which images you would like, they are named by the location and a number, you will need to say which series the image is in because sometimes the location and number will be the same in different sets… Does that make sense? I will charge postage at cost. I will send you a PayPal invoice and dispatch the print once I have the payment. It would be great to meet you in person if that is possible.

It would be a huge help if you could share this article.

Please help me make this happen.

Picture of the Week No.5

Wedding at Leighton Hall, Cumbria, UK in 2005, OM4Ti 35mm f2, Ilford XP2, scanned from a print on Ilford Classic FB.

Anyone who was following my Facebook page over this last weekend will know I was printing a portfolio of wedding photography. This picture was from the last wedding I shot entirely on film. In early 2006 I started shooting the colour pictures digitally and by the end of that year I was making the full set using digital cameras.

Back then I wasn’t convinced about digital capture and I certainly didn’t think it stood a chance against a black and white print. In those days the output for a wedding photographer was a paper print. That was before we had the screen quality we have now. I concede a well made, well processed digital image displayed on a good modern screen is pretty good. There are some very good digital print makers around now as well and a good printer working on a fibre based paper can make a decent job. So I took the plunge and dragged my commercial practice kicking and screaming into the digital age. When my son, Josh came back from his photography degree in 2009 he joined the business and his knowledge of digital processing brought our output up to date.

Still, as anyone who knows me or follows this blog will be aware, I love working with black and white film and making fine darkroom prints in the traditional way. I am convinced that anyone who sees a fine print like I am talking about will want to have at least part of their wedding photographed on film and a box of silver gelatine prints made. So with that in mind I made a portfolio over the weekend. The image above was one of the prints I made.

I take pride in making beautiful silver gelatine prints in my darkroom. Not only do I tease the very best from each negative so that the story is told and the object (the print) is a thing of beauty, but I make each single print to the strictest archival standard. We know, by using these methods, that prints will last at least 175 years, we don’t need accelerated age testing to prove that. The prints are double fixed and individually washed for 15 minutes, then they are Hypo Cleared and Selenium toned before they are again separately washed for a further one hour.

The prints being on a fibre based paper curl when they are dry. To to help prevent excessive curling I peg two prints back to back and leave them to dry gently overnight. In the morning I still have a set of slightly curly prints that I press under a pile of books for a couple of hours.

As flat as I can get them I start the slow process of spotting. Try as hard as I might to keep dust off the two surfaces of the negative (plus the surfaces of the glass in the neg carrier) there will inevitably be one or two spots that need attention.

I didn’t always enjoy “spotting” as I do now. At first I was very impatient, always in a hurry and I made mistakes. Usually the problem was that I made the dye too dense or the colour was wrong (I know it’s black and white but there’s a whole range between blue and brown black) either way you could see my mistake. I guess it is an age thing but these days I take it much slower. I mix the colour in a palette and test it on an off cut of processed white border until it matches the colour in the print.

Then I dilute the colour so that it is hardly there. Using a magnifying glass and a very fine 00 sable brush I work in the centre of the blemish and slowly build up the density until the blemish disappears. I really do find the whole process very cathartic.

Finally, I mounted the prints in window mounts and put them all in a box with a hinged lid. I made 27 prints, I was aiming for 30 but I lost count. The prints have an image area of 7”x5”, the window is 6”x8” and the overall mount size is 10”x8”.

If I was getting married I would want a box of prints like that.

Using Format