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Towards an Over-arching Philosophy in the Practice of Photography

Towards an Over-arching Philosophy in the Practice of Photography

The photographs I make are founded on the conviction that my own nature will be evidenced, to some extent, in those images. An essential pre-requisite is the adoption of methods and processes which yield imagery that appears entirely credible, i.e. honest in its seeing, faithful in tone and presentation. After Edward Weston there must be no obvious contrivance, no attempt to deceive or present anything other than what can be accepted as real, because the application of anything not true is likely to distract or confuse the viewer in reading my intention with the image or set of images presented. Uncompromised, there is then a chance for the viewer to go beyond the simple recognition of a narrative and to gain some sense of my nature, as the maker. Image-by-image and, therefore, piece-by-piece an insight may develop into how I see the world in front of my camera.

The philosophy I would expound is also one I hold to apply in my own viewing and comment on the photography made by others. There is always a proviso of course and in this case it is with acknowledgment to those exceptions in which a genre is purposefully selfless in its expression, such as many forms of documentary photography. This belief, vitally, nourishes my own higher goal in photography and one through which I have an insatiable desire to seek examples wherever I can find them.

The adage that every photograph is a self-portrait of its maker is, for me, an ideal to which only the best work can hope to strive toward. We are, undeniably, exceedingly complicated creatures and only a facet of our individual natures may be conveyed through the showing of a single image, or set of images. The challenge, I feel, is always to know this when we are working and to exploit that knowledge we have of ourselves in how we go about the task of making an image. At LM, the set of thirteen images of Cumbrian carnivals intended, first and foremost, to get across a gentle humour (which I believe I have) in the ‘how’ in which I observe these events, caring to roll with the humour displayed by the participants themselves. Indeed, it would defeat my purpose if I were to become mean or sarcastic because this would not to be myself, so I must strive to be myself in how I make the images and subsequently show them.

With other subjects along the Cumbrian coast, I seek to exploit different facets of my nature, at least those of which I am most conscious. When a portfolio of work is compiled, such as in book form and covering many subjects, then I would aspire in producing it to show my whole self, or as close to this as I am able. Closing the circle of argument then, photography for me is a process of getting to know myself in order to use that understanding to take that photography further in the manner of a self-nourishing cycle.


Keith Launchbury FRPS DPAGB 7th September, 2016