Comment: ways of working

Today i read a thought provoking article discussing the ubiquity of images and its affect on our memory. There are many interesting points and it is well worth a read.

The writer concludes the article with the following:

by engaging with analog technologies like disposable cameras, we’ll be better equipped to foster a slower, more intentional form of attention that’s crucial to defending our memories and sensations from being washed away.
— The Internet's barrage of images is changing how we think: Rebecca Macmillan

Do we need to a particular camera to foster a particular way of image making?

There is no doubt it makes it easier to do so. The majority of photographers defend and establish their way of working through equipment choice. Perhaps this is the yoke of the technical image maker, as technology will always inherently define the aesthetic of the final image. 

From Niepces to Muybridge, photographers have been limited to what and how they photograph. The decision maker in this process has however changed from that of technology to photographer. Photographers consciously choose to limit themselves with the technology they use. Another past defence of equipment choice was aesthetic and technical quality of images produced. This has also shifted; in the digital age tangible aesthetics and technical qualities (i.e. resolution, colour) are often either nuanced or unnecessary or easily reproduced. Photographers are no longer making the camera choice for the tangible aesthetic but for an intangible way of working.

This way of working is eluded to in the quote from the article. Photographers talk about using a camera to 'slow them down'. From an non photographic viewpoint this may seem nonsensical. Can we not simply slow down our way of working or turn off the screen on the camera. 

I will admit that like many of my fellow photographers, I enjoy the limitations that come with using different cameras; whether it be an iPhone or a 4x5" camera. But is this necessary, surely ways of working should come from a mindset, not from putting on a different technological hat. What would our photographic ancestors think: those frustrated and  limited by technology. Would they be aghast at our extravagance, or charmed by our recognition of interface between man and machine in the photographic process.

Fairy tree

Hawthorn Trees, recognised in Ireland as the fairy tree are often seen lone in the landscape, as it is considered bad luck to cut one down, remove branches or even hang things upon it in case you disturb the little folk.

Hawthorn trees are fascinating, found alone in the landscape. How did they get there and how many times has mans plans been diverted due to the mythical significance of these hardy little trees. They may not be seen classical elegant but there is an undeniable connection to something much more ancient as one gazes upon their gnarled and weathered appearance.

Hawthorn Tree No.1 ©Laurence Gibson

Talk: Simon Norfolk, ‘Under London’ Museum of London

Simon Norfolk has  and continues to produce fine work with the theme of traces with particular reference to traces of war being a major driving force. With multiple commissions from clients such as National Geographic and budgets up to $250,000. Norfolk was refreshingly candid about his beginnings as a photographer, mentioning a difficult decade when starting off as an photojournalist in London. Even now he states

“Im a freelance photographer; one job away from unemployment”.
— Simon Norfolk

It was fascinating to hear for the turning point in his career when he decided to travel to Afganistan to cover the conflict. He spoke of the moments before the taxi came to collect him for the airport; all my 35mm kit sitting there and my 4x5 field camera kit. At that moment he decided he would only take the large format. This provided the limitation and capacity to photograph afganistan in the way he did. Photographing the traces of war in this tribal melting point, where traces dating back millennia. Upon returning he found that magazines that had never even thought of granting him an audience, where suddenly calling him. From this turning point Norfolk has produced series in a wide variety of contexts. Using a technique of lit landscapes debuted in his photographs of the Mayan Temples using a crew of 12 and cinema lighting over a period of 7 weeks. Norfolk returns to this technique in recent commissions such as Mes Aynak for National Geographic in Afghanistan. 

to view more of Norfolk's work 


‘’Under London’ a series for National Geographic in collaboration with the museum london, with the aim to promote the layered history of London’s archeology to the public. He set about this photographing archeological objects and transplanting them into a relevant location. Photographing the objects in glorious detail on a phase one medium format camera with a top light to mimic museum lighting the objects are elevated beyond their muddy geological graves.