So Steve, thanks for bringing these pictures in. Tell me a little bit about, I think it's important to ask the question of everybody about what is it about photography that makes you wanna take pictures? What do you get from it? What are you searching for?
What am I searching for? I suppose my big interest is people in cities and their response to the cities, and I think that's where the street photography came in, and I think for me there's really two strands to the things that I've found myself drawn to, and one is people's reactions to cities in quite private moments where they may be overwhelmed by the city or they're tired or, you know, those kind of where you just see a very human reaction. And then the other side of things really emerged. My mum passed away about seven years ago, and I really, I struggled around that time to know what to do, and for me the camera became a way of, I think as we were talking about earlier and Olivia was talking about, of, you ...
know, connecting again. And I've always admired street photography where you see a real interaction between the photographer and the world around them, and your photography, as well. But for me during that time, maybe it was how I was feeling, I didn't feel like I was connecting with the people around me in the city. I felt like the city was passing me by. I feel in London compared to maybe other cities, people don't interact in the same way. So the street photography I loved I wasn't seeing on the streets of London. I was seeing people passing me by. I was finding myself close to 7 or 8 million people and having no interactions with them. And that became a fascination in itself, and I felt like I was, I would still take these photos in other countries of these quiet moments, but quite often in London, it would be about things passing me by. So I started to bring in trying to blur the figures and trying to take that little step back and to get something of that sense of people passing me by.
Well, it's interesting, and I looked at the first of these three pictures here, and I got the sense of these two pictures, and I thought, well, it's interesting he's observing and watching people go by, and they were dreamlike. I felt them... I don't know. They seemed to be old. They seemed to be from another time, a long time ago, and maybe it was the hat and the outfit, but there was something about them that had a kinda dreamy sweetness to it. And even these two in particular. I think this picture is the most provocative to me of what's going on. The close-up of the man's face, and then the emerging head above him, the way you put together these two faces in one space with the dark background is slightly magical. It has a kind of vaporous, dreamlike feeling to it. And as a photograph, it becomes very ambiguous.
I mentioned that before. And maybe it's me personally, but I love this, the texture of ambiguity. You know, we have the precise definition of what's in the frame, and yet we don't quite understand it. And I think it takes a special way of looking, of willingness to accept this kind of ambiguity, visual ambiguity. I'm not talking about meaning only, but visual ambiguity. And it's a recognition that there's a potential, right? Because we're never quite sure of things. You know, there's a difference between reality and a photograph of reality. Reality is what it is, but a photograph, you can only deal with it, it's not longer three dimensions. This is it, this little thin edge. It's a two-dimensional plane on which reality has been distilled to only something that you felt was important, right? And it's in that quivering moment that we can find our way as artists to saying something about what it is that moves us. And there's a few pictures here. The hat and the blurry face underneath. They... There's an odd kind of resistance, like, well, what's going on here? At the same time is there's a kind of compelling, what's going on here? You know, it's almost like an actor changing the reading of the line, right? You try that a few times. What's going on here? Like, nuttin'. Or what's going on here? (group chuckles) Something. And really, I think when we address our photographs with these questions, we're engaged. And a photograph that doesn't engage you, that somehow offers some resistance or no entryway at all, is a picture that doesn't work. And if something, anything, it could even be, I mean, well, this is a dumb picture. Really, there's not a lot that you see there. But that shadow. That, the force of that shadow of that sign casts a kind of... It makes a demand on the rest of the picture to look at it. And I don't know what it is, but it's... That sort of portrays the light, and then I begin to see the light on the back of the figure and the figures in shadow feels like a mystery, and suddenly the whole little scene there feels like stopped, and I'm caught in its web for a moment. I don't know if it's a great photograph or how long it'll stay in my memory. You know, this'll probably stay in my memory longer, and this might even stay in my memory longer than the other one. But the fact that any of them stay in my memory or make me question them means the first engagement has been positive. Maybe it's the fact that they're just verticals, but when I see these three pictures together, they harmonize. They create a tone for me that their linkage somehow makes them more engaging as this unit. I see them as the unit. And it makes me wanna read them and go back and forth through them. And I, you know, any picture can pull you into it for a little bit of a, you know, a wondering about it, and that picture has exercised some power, and that comes from a response that you have. It takes me closer to you. I get a sense of your mystery. And, you know, that's enough. That little bit means that something is engaged, some mind is engaged with I. And even though it would be easy to probably dismiss these pictures on terms of the subject matter. Oh, it's a window and a guy walking by with a hat and there's a plant in the window. It's like, there's nothing there. Nothing to say about it. But somehow there's a little bit of a charge to it that is really appealing, and I urge you to follow this instinct you have, whether it's hats, (Steve chuckles) as you said, or whether it's this kind of little blur thing that we do. It's not an offensive kind of blur. It's actually an invitation. I have a strong feeling about that. I don't know why. And it's not something you're necessarily gonna duplicate, and you've probably even cropped it...
...to get to that. But it has an... A sculptural quality. The figure coming out of the head of the other figure. The concentration of this figure's face downward into the light. It's intriguing. It has a kind of open narrative ending to it. Now, I don't really believe in narrative power of photographs. I think they're facts. You put a fact up and you kinda deal with the fact. But sometimes a picture lends a kind of, what's going on? A curiosity. You sort of lean into it. And that's a strength.
You know, of an image. I just wanna look at this. I didn't look at it carefully enough. You know, it's an interesting, it's graphically interesting because of what's on the ground, because of the quality of the light. And yet we've seen a lot of these photographs from a, you know, an elevated point of view looking down, and they're often very engaging. A lot of early European photographs that have this kinda quality. But it also speaks about the city, you know, the urban mystery, the loneliness. And I'm... I'm interested in it, and yet probably in the long run, I would be more interested in some of these pictures.
I was wondering...
Because this feels familiar.
In some way.
You know what I mean? Although I think you've made it your own, it feels familiar.
Yeah. I think it's a direction that's worth pursuing.
Okay, great. Thank you.