We were on an Artist residency in India, and we found ourselves at the top of Udiapur Mountain, there was this family and who were having problems with their video camera. Having seen us with all our cameras they came over and ask us to fix their. With minimal camera repair knowledge we realised that the camera was completely fucked, and despite us telling them repeatedly it wasn’t working they asked one of us to record their family. So whilst I filmed, Luke was getting some great pictures of the family members and this one of me supposedly filming. I love the guy on the right taking a picture. Don’t think we will ever forget this moment.
‘Surfers, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall’ 2007
In October 2007 I was in St Ives for a week’s holiday with my (then) girlfriend. I’d graduated from the Photography course at the University of Brighton that summer and I had hardly picked up a camera since. After three intense years immersed in the subject I needed a break, but by October I was keen to get out and take some pictures again. Much to my girlfriend’s disappointment my large-format 5×4 camera went on holiday with us.
One afternoon I ventured out alone with my gear. The light was beautiful, bright and perfectly overcast, a large-format photographer’s dream. It might sound strange to some people, but I remember finding it really difficult to know what to photograph. At University I’d become used to working on projects based on specific ideas and I felt lost just wandering around without any particular purpose.
It took me a while, but slowly, over the course of the afternoon, I rediscovered the joy of taking photographs, just for the fun of it.
I have a new girlfriend now.
‘My Mother’ 2008
This is a photograph I took of my mother in 2008. My mother had been quite ill for sometime and had been in and out of hospital after having collapsed several times. She was subsequently diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and this was obviously a very fraught time for me and my family. This picture was taken on a Horseman 45HD large format view camera, in my mothers back garden of her council house in Whitehaven, Cumbria. It was a bitterly cold winters day and it took me nearly an hour to set up the shot. I spared my mum the ignominy of freezing to death in her garden and set the shot up without her, until the point at which I needed to press the shutter.
This was not one of the easiest photographs I’ve ever had to take, as anybody who knows my photography will attest to the fact that people are the last thing you’ll find in any of my images. Portraiture for me is anathema and making this image was definitely imbued with a sense of foreboding and necessity, and it was very much on my mind that this might be the last opportunity I have to take this shot. This was exacerbated by the crippling cold and the fact that the neighbour’s Rottweiler was tearing up and down the garden, barking angrily, with only the flimsiest of fences and a handful of cats to protect me.
Given the fact that I mostly photograph the urban and industrial landscape in a studied and objective manner, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this photograph. I haven’t taken many portraits since, and certainly wouldn’t do so for my artistic or professional practice. I’m happy to say that my mother hasn’t kicked the bucket yet, even though her condition is technically terminal. However, the prospect of one’s own mortality, and the loved ones that surrounds us, becomes ever more poignant as time progresses.
I took this photo during the aftermath of the 2005 Tsunami in the southern India. When I first saw the image I couldn’t bare to look at it. Something about the man’s gaze troubled me and left me feeling rather uncomfortable. Here is a photo of a man who had suffered huge trauma and there was I, intruding on his grief and photographing him. What did he get out of the relationship? So I never showed it to anyone.
But it’s an important image for me because it made me question the role of the photographer in situations of trauma and high drama. It made me question whether the photograph can still be useful as a tool for social change, in today’s world filled with imagery. It made me question lots of things about photography actually. So I’m very pleased I took it. And I’ve never forgotten it.
Shortly after submitting my original image to the ‘The shot I never forgot’ I began to regret my decision. All that self reflection had dislodged the image from my fascination. It was now running free on the internet and I had totally lost interest in it. There are a great deal of photographs in my collection which I continually return to and yet find difficult to place within a series. So when John announced he was going to exhibit them all it was easy enough for me to to come up with a replacement. I wanted to look again at this photo of the The Agglestone which is again a landscape, or perhaps an enormous still life. The Agglestone is a 400 tonne piece of iron-cemented sandstone in Dorset, not far from Corfe and was the destination of a holiday walk with family and friends once. I think I am simply drawn to its immense age and scale and how that idea contrasts with the ephemerality of that afternoon stroll.
‘Berlin Lady’ 2004
I made this photograph on a trip to Berlin in my Foundation Year. Like so many aspiring photographers I hadn’t used colour film yet so every image was black and white. The sky was consistently overcast which in hindsight made the experience good for monochromatic vision.
I had borrowed a medium format Bronica from Filton College in Bristol and was just getting used to looking down onto the ground glass. It was a wonderful experience to discover photographic emersion; the feeling that you’re removed from a situation, that you’re somewhere else looking in.
All those elements, the black and white film, the camera and the fresh perspective add to this image but it’s the Berlin Lady that really makes it. She is looking at me, looking at her through the camera. It takes her gaze over the frame giving the scene an element of Film Noir mystery. She is very attractive. I have to admit I fell a little bit in love with her.
The image stands alone in a sea of single images from that trip. The notion of making a consistent series was foreign to me so I came back with a lot of exciting but fragmented photographs; perhaps something closer to memory. I still consider the image to be one of my best though. And I’m still a little bit in love with the Berlin Lady.
This is the photograph that first inspired this project.
It was taken over a decade ago, I think in 2001 and it has always stayed with me.
I was on a train journey to Hamble-le-Rice (near Southampton) with a close friend. We were meant to be visiting a friend in Glasgow for the weekend, but severe snow stopped us being able to fly, so we decided to go on a random road trip and see where the weekend took us.
At the time, we were both processing a lot of personal issues and the weekend turned into a 3 day long debate about the meaning and philosophies of life, which acted as a sort of therapy for the both of us. The weekend remains with me as one of the most poignant in my life. I took this portrait on a whim, during a brief period of silence after a particularly hard and heavy discussion (about spirituality – if my memory serves correctly). For me, the picture captures the essence of this moment perfectly and the mood of the trip in general.
I never take portraits and it rarely occurs to me to photograph people. However, in this moment, my friends face was so full of expression and meaning, I fired the shot off as he pondered the world out of the scratched and grubby train window. I love the stillness and depth of his expression, and the glimpse of the landscape passing him by and often wondered if he saw his own expression in the reflection.
I find the image beautiful and troubling because of the memories I associate with it so I have always kept a copy of it next to my desk to act as a memory of my very dear friend and a life affirming trip.
Whilst looking at the portrait one day, I began to reflect on the number of significant pictures that Photographers take for their own satisfaction and never think about sharing with others.
I began to contact artists and asked them if they would be prepared to share a shot they never forgot.