In this post we need to turn back the hands of time and travel back many... many years ago to when I was about sixteen. Spice girls were still going, although Geri had left by then and my hair... well... lets not go there! At this age I wasn't sure where I was going with my life, what I wanted to be. I had the usual teen dramas and my mum telling me that by 'hook or by crook' I had to go out and get a job! I distinctly remember at that point the duvet being ripped off my bed and being blinded by the sunlight. I wasn't impressed to say the least!
However, tough love was what I needed, and what I got. A few days later I landed a job which I stuck with for many years and diligently climbed the corporate ladder. It gave me enough cash in the bank to go out drinking at weekends, go on short holidays and a reason to frequent the then bustling high-street to buy clothes (the days before Amazon).
From a young age I'd trawl through the family photo albums. I was intrigued by the places my family had travelled and stayed during an enchanting era known as the 1960s and 1970s. When I was about ninteen a tragedy happened which to some degree put me on track to picking up photography for myself. My farther was walking home one evening and was mugged. They hit him over the head from behind and left him bleeding and unconscious on the concrete pavement.
He was rushed to the local hospital and transferred to a specialist brain injury unit in Romford. As you can imagine I was beside myself. At this point we didn't know what the outcome would be. Thankfully though he made a near complete recovery. Although he never regained his sense of smell or taste.
So what has my dad's mugging got to do with my photography? For the first time it really hit home that my parents wont always be around. With this new sense of mortality I felt it was now my turn to start snapping photos and build-up a new album. My very first SLR camera was a Nikon 35mm. It served me well and I got some great shots from it. But over time I got less snap happy and it took a few more years till I picked up the hobby again. Being busy at home, work and moving around a lot you could just sum it up and say 'life' got in the way.
Now, catapulting ourselves back to 2015 I'm ever more focused on photography as a form of self expression. In the last 12 months I've at last finished the mammoth task of digitizing all the family photos. Thank heavens I took a punt on the Epson Perfection V550 scanner, which made light work of it all.
As I went through scanning all the images it really gave me a sense of nostalgia. People who are no longer with us, pictures of people I'll never know, memories that I was never part of yet somehow feel connected to. I realised something that as a child I had never noticed before. It was how good some of the photos were, both in subject matter and composition. These were photos that my mum had taken. In her younger days she loved taking photos, but again 'life' got in the way.
The real purpose of this post was to talk about personal influences in my own photography. The 'why' and the 'how' I got started in the craft. All to often we focus too much attention on people we don't know and say how great and wonderful their work is. The critics that over analyse images taken by what some toot as the photographic 'greats'. But if we step back for a moment, surely there are equal if not better images taken by other unknown photographers? While I appreciate the works by the likes of Vivien Maier and Diane Arbus, I put mum's family photos right at the top of the appreciation pile.
Why? She never set out to be an artist or a photographer. She set out to capture an image that looked good and had emotional meaning... to her! I don't know about you, but at times I can over think how I'm going to take a picture. Snapping from multiple angles, exposures and distances has it's place of course. As prolific photographers and as artists we need to do this as we experiment and grow our talent. At times though, isn't it nice 'just' to click that shutter for the sole reason of capturing what is right in front of you?
What are your personal influences as a photographer and as an artist? Share them in the comments below!