The book of In Plain View images is now complete. Following tweaks to a draft version (note, subtle changes to ‘clarity’ are not always very apparent in the final printed version) the books arrived this week. The post below is the final text and a few of the images.
In Plain View
You would see if you were looking – Imtiaz Dharker
Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see – Andre Kertesz
The only true voyage of discovery… would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another – Marcel Proust
Light’s alchemy… that illusory aspect of the mind from wherever it came – Sarah Hall
Atget and Evans and any number of their successors and contemporaries set out, almost as a matter of doctrine, to decelerate the act and the work of seeing – Ian Jeffrey
Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with how you see them – Elliott Erwitt
Often we do not see, much less appreciate, what is around us. We find the familiar dull and may be wholly blind to the beauty in everyday objects and experiences. Jonathan Meades argues, ‘The typical is elusive. It’s a hard thing to capture because it surrounds us and doesn’t shout.’ How many people, who live in fine landscapes, beautiful cities or just harmonious places, stop each day to look, enjoy their surroundings and give thanks for their good fortune? As photographers we are often drawn to, look at and see with greater clarity, that which is most different from our daily experience.
We travel in search of the new and the exotic, of places and experiences to awaken our jaded senses. Blaise Pascal was sceptical about the virtues of travel, he argued, ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone’. Xavier de Maistre took him at his word and in 1790 embarked on a voyage at home, later recalling what he had seen in Journey Around My Bedroom.
In this spirit, between October 2014 and May 2016, I travelled around my house and garden with a camera to try to see and capture the changing scene, the changing play of light and shade through the day and through the year. I looked up and down, inward and outward.
The idea of seeing and recording the extraordinary in the ordinary seemed to call for a simple unhurried approach, to as far as possible let the subjects speak for themselves. I used a Leica IIIf with 50mm f3.5 Elmar lens; and a mixture of Ilford FP4 and HP5 film. Film was processed, printed and scanned by Ilford. I took 11 rolls of film totalling 357 frames. From October 2014 photographs from the project were posted on my photo blog.
At the start I visualised the images as having a certain abstract, fragmentary quality; in the event some took on a more literal, documentary aspect. This book presents paired images: a full frame print and an enlarged fragment from that picture. In extracting a fragment the aim is to explore further the challenge of looking and seeing. The book contains 29 paired images.
I’m indebted to two books for inspiration: Light Spells – Kettle’s Yard, photographs by Kathryn Faulkner and Graham Murrell with afterword by Ian Jeffrey, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge 2002; and Blackwell Within – A Photographic Evocation, Graham Murrell with words by Sarah Hall, Blackwell, Bowness-on Windermere, 2011.