Earlier this month my father sadly passed away. On return to England, I came across several of the family’s old photo albums. As I scoured over each page, i was reminded that although my father was known primarily as an artist, he was also an excellent photographer.
The images were excellent and invaluable. In the age of tumblr and facebook, I do hope that I will own albums of photographs when I reach old age. It was also a confirmation of sorts - that making images of domestic, seemingly mundane life is essential to my role as a photographer.
For the last few days I have been immersed in "Magnum Contact Sheets", a book featuring reproductions of contacts from many of the agency’s photographers. The sheets reveal hits and misses and, in the accompanying text, why a particular image was chosen over others.
The exhibition of contact sheets is not a new one, one need only look at Moriyama’s recent Labyrinth show at the Bld gallery. I don’t see many people displaying their contacts online however. Of course, it’s hardly surprising - the contact sheet is a result of darkroom work, used to select images worthy of printing. Why would anyone bother to scan and post on-line?
The layout does have a certain something though. It may appear “cool” to the uninitiated, the digicam user unfamiliar with the mechanics of photography. Even the look of these scanned negatives interest me (the images , not so much). Frame after frame, it’s what we see when we raise the camera to our eye.
But it’s an appreciation of the “misses” and their flaws that has more value. It ties in to what I have been thinking a lot about recently, mainly how images work together. Last year, I would have thought it absurd to not include your very best in an exhibition or book. But as I am exposed to more and more images, it makes perfect sense to think about the bigger picture, how everything works together.
I write of exhibiting and publication and next year I hope to venture into both fields. In the meantime, this site will feature more “misses” that, when viewed in sequence, will hopefully make the process of viewing a lot more interesting.