My earlier days of training and exhibiting, helped me to cultivate collections around single themes and I continue to work in this way as it helps me to go deeper into my subjects. Photography is a discipline of selection and exclusion. We confine a small section of our environment to the frame of our photograph. Focusing not only happens by adjusting the lens, before then, we focus on our subject. This, not that, is what we want in our picture. The restrictions of this discipline help crystalise and refine our work. Our vision develops and improves inside this self imposed box. Sometimes we come to a point of maximum potential when it is time to re-assess where our creative energy wants to flow and a fresh departure emerges.
From the beginning I was drawn to texture and pattern in my pictures rather than context or representation which I tried to avoid. In a way, photography was a journey towards abstraction for me, away from the relative into the elemental. My main subjects have become less often trees, more frequently the patterns and textures of their bark. Weathered rocks are approached closely for the abstract designs that can be gleaned from them rather than their context or location. Vegetables and plants are selected and isolated for their stunning simplicity of form.
Ageing and decay adds richness to textures and offers less familiar depictions of the mundane. Lotus ponds in winter, with their large, skeletal leaves and stalks lying amidst the mud, intrigue me as much as the spectacular flowers of summer. Basically, I look for unnoticed or unfamiliar fragments of the natural landscape in order to make them special and bring them to light. It feels like a kind of devotion.
Predominantly I use a square format as it suits the way I like to compose pictures and works very well for my main subjects. It was the chosen frame for many portrait photographers. Although I have not focused so much on people for a few years, I consider most of my pictures to be portraits of natural forms. Just recently, exploring local architecture and the results of its passage through time, I have added the rectangle again as this shape works much better for me with buildings.
I continue to shoot and develop black and white film. My darkroom has been replaced by a high quality scanner and digital printer. A much greater degree of fine tuning is possible within the digital realm and modern papers offer a wonderful range of surface finishes and tones. They also (apparently) equal the longevity of traditional, silver gelatin prints. Although reluctant to abandon analogue photography, I am happy to have shifted the editing and printing aspect into the digital realm.