Safe to say this year has been rather different to recent ones.....prolonged double house move exacerbated by broken chains and ineffectual legal advisors have unfortunately taken precedence over my business. Pleased to say those days are behind me, the paint brush has been put away and I am looking forward to 3 Spitalfields Arts Market as well as Essex Craft & Design Show at RHS Hyde Hall between now and Christmas.
Although I have not been out with my camera as much as I would have liked I am fortunate to have rather a lot of work in my archive much of which has never even been processed. I may take a picture today and feel that perhaps it is not right or I am not comfortable with it but months later I see it in a completely different way and will look to process it. This one I took near Tarr Steps on Exmoor about 3 years ago. The lovely side lighting so evident in Autumn helps create the scene.
Another picture I took some years ago on an extremely stormy morning overlooking Croyde Bay in Devon; quite dramatic in itself it never actually sat well with me. However I tried outputting it in such a way to emphasise the drama of the moment and a monochrome conversion in Silver Efex resulted in a quite moody image. My hope is that the manner in which I processed it will enable the viewer to feel the drama I experienced at the time. Does it work? Well for me it does although I do acknowledge that such a grungy image will not appeal to all. Anyway please judge for yourself!
Some recent sales have been of my more artful work which may not be that commercial but to have people buy such images is very pleasing as it is this type of output I am more happy with. The question of should my work be either commercial or artful is something I am constantly wrestling with. I know which I prefer but I suspect the market for such imagery is more narrow. I do know my prices do not yet reflect the cost of my business, a Catch-22 situation; will my work sell at a price that reflects my costs? I would like to think so but experience has taught me I think that there is a general perception that photography should be cheap whereas art commands a much higher price.
Are artists more skilled than photographers? A whole different debate. How do the costs borne by an artist compare to those of a photographer? Well speaking from a position of knowledge I would say a photographer faces greater outgoings than an artist. Why is this? Well let's take the cost of equipment; what would it take for me to replace my tools? It runs to 5 figures. Equipment is a depreciating asset requiring replacement and additions from time-to-time but primarily it might be considered as a one-off cost. Perhaps the biggest on-going cost is that of transport; this is where an artist might have a very distinctive cost advantage. In order for a landscape photographer to capture images they have to travel, near and far. Without my vehicle I would not be able to fulfil my own brief as well as those of customers. When I do my books I always give a sharp intake of breath when I see just how much 4 wheels has cost me over the course of a year. Must not forget IT costs, printing inks and papers, insurance for equipment as well as Product & Public Liability. The latter I am sure will also be required by an artist.
Then there is expertise on which it is difficult to place a value and this is where in all probability many people consider an artist to be more creative and skilful than a photographer. This I understand and is not far removed from my own thoughts however I do think the general public do undervalue the skills of a photographer.
As one specialising in landscape I have to work with whatever natural light and weather conditions are present at the time, I can not manipulate nature. This is where the skill and ability to adapt to an ever changing scenario kicks in. An artist can and does work from their imagination as well as photographs. They do sketch a scene on location to use in the studio. I have a number of artist friends and associates and I greatly admire and sometimes envy their wonderful creative abilities, not to mention the time taken to create an original painting. They deserve their success.
The point I am attempting to make is that photography, in my case the landscape variety, is undervalued and misunderstood. I do not just roll up somewhere, take a picture and hey presto! Normally much planning has preceded my shooting, scouting and planning a location, checking on sunrise and sunset times, the orientation of the sun at a given time, the weather, copious use of tide times and so on.
I use my camera to create what I see through my eyes; the lens, filters, etc are all tools of my trade which I use to capture as much digital information as possible to enable me to output an image very much as I envisaged at the outset. Shooting in RAW enables me to work with as much of that information as possible.
My workflow starts when I depress the shutter and continues in Lightroom where I choose the images I want to work with and discard the rest. Lightroom is an amazingly good piece of processing software so much so that there is little need to resort to Photoshop (please don't get me going about 'oh you must have done something to it in Photoshop'). Processing software in the digital darkroom has replaced developing tanks, film trays, enlargers, manual dodging and burning and so on. Yes manipulation predates the digital age.
I hope I have made the case for landscape photography as a serious creative art form but also hope I have not upset any of my artist friends because no such offence is intended, I just feel it necessary to champion my cause.
Now I will get back to printing, mounting and framing in readiness for my next Spitalfields Arts Market, 13th - 16th November, closely followed by Essex Craft & Design at RHS Hyde Hall, 22nd & 23rd November. December will see me return to Spitalfields 4th - 7th & 18th - 21st. Latest date for ordering prints not in stock for Christmas will be 12th.
Thank you for reading, I hope you now have a greater insight in to my work and photographic philosophy and found my commentary of interest.