The Shadow of the Photographer 1980 - 1998
This series of photographs is an attempt to explore the reasons for - and the implications of - our (largely intuitive) attraction to the scenes and events that we 'choose' to record.
Most commercial photographers eventually lose their enthusiasm for making photographs and it becomes instead 'just a job'. In an effort to avoid this fate, when making photographs for my own enjoyment, I sought to compensate for the fastidious degree of control over my photographs demanded by art directors by giving up conscious control over my compositions. Exploiting the camera's ability to record images literally at the touch of a button without the need for - or the interference of - conscious decision-making, I relied instead on my intuition to select the scene, compose the photograph and choose The Moment. (Ultimately, I stopped even looking in the ground glass before releasing the shutter.)
Like a flashbulb that briefly illuminates a dark street and which reveals the goings-on in the shadows only after developing the film, in the scenes and events I had 'chosen' to record, I was astonished to find picture postcards of the emotional landscape I inhabit 'in here' - and allegorical self-portraits of the one I had become in my effort to find a way through it.
Poems in time and chance composed in the symbolic language of the unconscious dreaming mind, the narratives contained within these photographs confronted me with descriptions of my Self I had been unable (or unwilling) to know - what Jung called my Shadow. Like notes pinned to a tree by an unseen companion and left for me to find, here were the private myths by which I lived. By reflecting on what they had to say, these photographs offered me the means to understand, to forgive, and finally, to heal.
This project is the basis for the book: The Shadow of the Photographer
To the viewer: The black & white photographs made in this project have a black surround. This is the result of filing back the openings in my negative carriers (used to hold the negative in place in the enlarger). Enlarging these allows the near-transparent area around the negative (the rebate) to expose the paper – a commitment not to crop the image and to print the photograph full frame.