I'm very pleased to have a double-page spread of my work featured in a new book just published by Bloomsbury, Making Photographs, written by Dr Mike Simmons, programme leader for the MA Photography course at De Montfort University. My thanks to Mike for including my work - it's really heartening when you see your photographs in print, especially in such illustrious company.
The clue to the book's identity is in the title - this is a book about 'making' photographs, about using photography in a structured and organised way to explore ideas in depth, as opposed to the more casual approach of just 'taking' photographs. The emphasis throughout is on developing your own personal perspective and covers such topics as identifying and understanding your subject, generating ideas, cultivating a visual vocabulary, research, inspiration and influence. It is subdivided into chapters which explore the creative process from start to finish, using work of both renowned photographers and former students of the MA course (many of whom have since become very successful in their individual fields) to illustrate ideas and working methods. The reader is encouraged to think critically about the way images are read and understood and there are both case studies and practical exercises in each chapter to aid the process. The book would be a first-class introduction to the understanding of the creative process, both for students of photography and photographers in general who wish to develop a more coherent and personal approach to their work.
My work as featured in the book
Reading through it, I was immediately transported back to my time on the MA course at DMU, where, under the tutelage of previous course leader and founder Paul Hill, together with Mike Simmons and Greg Lucas, we were constantly encouraged to experiment, research, question and justify as we made our way on our photographic journey. I learned such a lot, and studying on the course helped shape my interests and develop my own style. But I wonder how many photographers carry on working in this way once they have graduated? It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline to do so much preparatory and developmental work when you are not in a learning environment and without the support of a peer group. I realise how far I have drifted away from this ordered approach - I do take the odd note and still do a lot of research into other photographers, but the days of keeping a photographic journal are long gone and my method of working is much more intuitive. I would find it really difficult to plan my projects in such close detail now. These days, I often start with a vague idea and see where it takes me and I have noticed a worrying tendency to fly off in too many directions at once, or else I get bogged down and abandon the idea!
Perhaps now would be a good time to return to a more disciplined and considered approach to making photographs....