Deciding what images I show to represent my early work before 2014 became a matter of, does this photograph have something that speaks to me now? Does it have a meaning that still holds true as it did some forty years ago?
This small collection of images, selected from thousands of images, has travelled with me through my many manifestations as a still-life, product & food photographer, location photographer and editorial photographer. Experiences from these areas of photography have given me many insights into the enterprise of image making. They have helped me see images with objective clarity, and to understand the processes and production behind images.
My journey has now taken me to a new beginning that started to come together in 2014, yet in many ways it has taken me back to the beginning; a man with a camera trying to make sense of the world.
I never found out to whom this boot belonged, or if the person had just one leg or took great pride in the boot and the remaining leg. What happened on that cloudy day in the sleepy fishing village of Marmaris on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey in 1973 is that I came across an image that was open ended. It altered my way of seeing and thinking about images. That day in Marmaris would set me on an image path that I would journey along for the next decade.
On a hot afternoon in Barcelona a dog walks in front of a young family; it is 1979. My English grandfather was a sailor who would not set out to sea if a black cat walked across his path. The gaze of the family was a split second in time focusing on the crossing dog; did they feel the same about this dog as my grandfather felt about black cats? The picture hangs in my small library today, and I gaze at it from time to time. I know that the dog is long dead; I wonder if the family are still together?
The Somnambulist, a book with a strong surreal thread running through it, by the American photographer Ralph Gibson, and the book A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda, had an influential effect during the 1970’s on my photography. Castaneda’s book told stories about an apprenticeship he had with a Yaqui sorcerer, a traditional “Man of Knowledge”, called Don Juan Matus who attempted to make Castaneda understand the part of perception which is in the realm of the unknown yet still reachable.
A day off in New York, while I was working on a campaign for Trans World Airlines, was a day off to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry and with Robert Frank’s The Americans buzzing in my head I met this moment in time in 1990. I came across Robert Frank by chance fourteen years later at Tate Modern, London. He was watching a documentary of himself on a monitor on the third floor of the gallery, and I asked him if he thought the film was any good? He replied, not bad.
Trans World Airlines had filed for a third and final bankruptcy in 2001.
For twenty-six years I was an advertising and editorial photographer. I had a 2500 sq. foot studio in Clerkenwell for thirteen years, where I worked as a still-life photographer, photographing food, room sets, products and portraits. This is a small collection of work produced over the twenty-six years.
I had travelled around Britain meeting people who thought of themselves as eccentric. The intermittent journeys were taken over a period of four years and in 1999 I decided I’d had enough genuine material to create a book. I had only one publisher in mind and that was Dewi Lewis. I had never been published or exhibited before, and it was a long shot to try and get him to publish the book. However, I had Ivor Culter, the Scottish poet, singer, songwriter and musician, who had written a very Cutleresque introduction and a beautiful designed draft copy of the book that I had worked on for one year with the designer Ruth Holden. Dewi published the book, and we launched it at the Castle in Hay on Wye during the festival and also had a book signing at the Groucho Club, London.
The title of the book is – I AM.
When I finished working as a commercial photographer at the end of 2012 I started to get interested in thematic projects. I started to take images of used street objects. Recent interests for me are now to be found in the South Downs, where I live nearby.