Last week I went to a photography show at the Bargehouse Gallery in London. The invitation came from a fellow student who had an exhibition as part of the show. It seemed interesting so I went along with my wife.
As this was the private viewing, many of the photographers were present and were happy to discuss their work.
Sometimes when I am at an exhibition, especially if I have been viewing for a few hours, I get somewhat disconnected from the images. They become simply pictures on the wall, almost part of the wall. The idea that they are the product of a photographer’s planning, shooting, editing, agonising and organising gets lost. It’s as if all those stages of arriving at the final print are compressed together and somehow sunk into the wall, hidden by the print and deprived of recognition.
Being able to speak to the photographer snaps you back to reality and pulls all that work back out of the wall and into your understanding.
I spoke to a French lady who undertook expeditions into primordial forests to photograph little known tribes.
To a lady whose photography was a welcome creative antidote to her stressful job with the police.
To a man who documented the plight of London’s homeless people and used his work to help alleviate their plight.
A photographer is a label given to people who engage in a particular set of practices centred around capturing images. But just as the pictures are infinitely different, so too are the practitioners creating those pictures. Different ages, genders, motivations and backstories all finding their expression in a final print on the wall of an old factory.
I have also been reading some of the course reading about marketing. Photographers who are successful at selling their work frequently make the point that engaging with potential buyers is a very important practice. Buyers like the idea that they are buying something unique and infused with the creativity of its maker.
My experience at the Bargehouse validated those statements very strongly. Photography is art and it contains the essence of the artist.