Interview October 2021
Q. I want to ask you about vision. I read in a previous interview that once a very established and successful photographer said that you had a “great glance”. What does that mean to you?
Everybody has a different way of seeing I think. If you put 10 photographers into the same scenario, the pictures will all end up looking quite unique to each photographer. But this I do know: people will see what they want to see, and that applies to photographers as well.
Q. So how do you go about working with a scene, a place, or a subject?
I try to find the truth. I try to be honest about it, and at the same time I try to take the kind of picture that displays a certain understanding of the place. After all, that’s the heart of the matter. That’s the struggle isn’t it? It’s very easy and quite commonplace now in photography to fabricate and embellish, and if you’re after attention, then I guess that’s the reason many do it that way. But we’re all free to do what we want in the art world aren’t we?
Q. I’m reading into your answer and taking a bit of a leap here, but is that why you’re not a big fan of posting to social media?
Well, like I said before, people see what they want to see. And, social media in many ways is really a type of popularity contest. So if you want attention on social media, your photographs have to be designed to appeal to the masses…so-called “pop photography” you know? Although some of my photographs may have a wider appeal, for the most part, the vast majority of my photographs, including most of my very best photographs, have zero appeal to the masses.
Q. Why is that do you think?
Because it’s not what they want to see…I have spent all my life trying to look inside my soul to undo everything I’ve learned. I’m not at all interested in producing photographs that appeal to people on Facebook. It’s just futile. I’ve been there, just like many many others. But I’ve freed myself from that revolving door. I try to take photographs that are a reflection of the way I see with honesty and with a measure of understanding. And hopefully, photographs that are worthy enough to have some value for many years.
If I was after popularity in my home town for example, I’d be spending my time taking photographs of sunsets, sunrises, grizzly bears, eagles, dressed-up landscapes and breath-taking scenes. That’s all the world needs is yet another picture of Mount Elizabeth so that we can try to sell it to tourists in the local museum. But I suppose it’s really a matter of who do you photograph for? I don’t photograph for other people. I don’t photograph to sell my images. It’s really that simple.
Q. It’s quite true that there are many photographers caught in that “revolving door” of trying to be popular. I can certainly appreciate you wanting to be free from that. But what keeps you going?
A. Art I suppose… the challenge perhaps… trying to take pictures that speak in a lower voice I think…