Starting with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce who in 1826 or 1827 captured an image from an upstairs window at his estate in Burgundy using a technique known as heliography, the first photographers were looking for the innate and universal essence of the subject, not merely a representation of it. They sought something that embodied the soul of the image as experienced by the viewer and which moved them emotionally.
Late 19th century photography influenced Impressionism's interest in capturing a 'snapshot' of ordinary people doing everyday things, which was a complete break with traditional formalism and highly theatrical art. Many painters used photographs to enable them to create impressionist paintings, and learned a range of new techniques from the science of photography.
Paintings capture the beat of one person's heart, a highly individuated response to environment or experience, but is there any universality in the image, allowing the one to stand for all? No, a painting is in truth biographical, while a photograph is essentially archival and universal.
The photographer is called to interrogate old certainties by exploring new possibilities with a fresh, challenging light. The photograph is evidence and it must speak for itself.
I shoot portraits of remarkable people.
In 1974, in London, I first bought my first SLR - the revolutionary Olympus OM1, championed by Litchfield and Snowdon - and battered it to death on 15 expeditions. My images have been used in magazines, newspapers and audio-visual productions. I've worked with stills and movie format in Australia, UK, France, Nepal, Italy, Denmark and Greenland.
Today, in addition to digital colour portraits, in studio or on site, and studio instructional and conference videos, I also shoot 'old skool' in monochrome using available light, fixed lenses, and traditional formats with a range of classic cameras and film types.
Focusing on portraits, I'm inspired by Godard's insight: 'Photography is truth'. The portrait photographer's challenge is to go beyond the superficial image and uncover the essence of the subject's soul. New York large format photographer Berenice Abbott declared in the 1930s, "Photography has to walk alone; it has to be itself." Likewise, the portrait of each unique individual.
This site includes a small rotating guest gallery of images from inspirational photographers.
To discuss a portrait commission, email me: email@example.com
Pic of the month
World Photography Day - 19 August 2021
Inuit boy, future photographer
This image was taken in East Greenland, in 1986, during Australia's first Arctic expedition. The boy lived in the tiny hamlet of Ikateq, on Ammassalik Island. We arrived at Ikateq in our sea kayaks in the late afternoon and this Inuit boy was very interested in our cameras. We had several cameras, including Nikon and Olympus, in addition to a 16mm professional movie camera. The boy was entranced by my Nikon L35AWAF/L35AWAD waterproof rangefinder camera. In fact, he liked it so much that he crept back during the night and stole it out of the deck bag on my kayak. Several years later, the camera case, with no film and its mechanism ripped out, arrived by post at Expedition HQ in Melbourne, Australia. There was no note or explanation. That was a mystery and so too was his interest in cameras: did he later become a photographer? Camera: Nikon FM2. Film: Ektachrome.