Some thoughts on other photographers

I have reported elsewhere in this journal on my recent visit to Ireland, undertaken  in furtherance of my final major project:  Second visit to Yeats country

This entry concerns some of the photographers who may, consciously or otherwise, have influenced my approach to photographing the Irish landscape.

Jem Southam – his sequence “The River – Winter” has been a particular inspiration. In that work he has shown how, with patience and compositional skill, a dreary landscape can attain a poetic quality:

From “The River – Winter”, Jem Southam (2013)

In a number of my images of the lakes, rivers and streams of Ireland I have tried to borrow some of that technique:

The river at Thoor Ballylee

Chloë Dewe Mathews is another practitioner whose work shows the transcending and transforming power of the photographic image, as for example in her images of the otherwise banal WW1 execution sites of British soldiers in her work “Shot at Dawn”:

From “Shot at Dawn”, Chloë Dewe Mathews (2014)

The sombre woodland images of Giulietta Verdon-Roe in for example her “Wandering Ireland” project have inspired some of the photographs I propose to submit as my work-in- progress portfolio for the current module. The woods and forests of Ireland and their mythological associations are a recurring theme of Yeats’ verse and  I have consciously sought to capture this element in my images, as I have demonstrated in the earlier post referenced above.

From “Wandering Ireland”, Giulietta Verdon-Roe

The French photographer, Chrystel Lebas, is well-known for her images of forest landscapes, in particular her mysterious twilight evocations, as for example in “Between Dog and Wolf” and “Blue Hour”.

“Abyss 3”, Chrystel Lebas (2003)

In order to accompany the “Twilight” exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Lebas wrote:

 ‘The forest is a fascinating place, one can feel attracted to its grandeur, or scared by its depth and darkness. This space of immensity echoes our childhood memories, through fairytale or play. Walking through the forest of my childhood in France, after many years, I remembered when we used to build a hut, and slowly the light would disappear, and darkness would surround us.’ 

These considerations led me, during my visit to Ireland, to make my own experiments with long exposure twilight photography:

Yeats 4
Hazelwood, County Sligo

This discussion would be incomplete without mentioning the Czech photographer Jitka Hanzlová whose series of images (Forest (2000-2005)) of the woodland surrounding her native village evoke myth, memory and loss:

From the series “Forest”, Jitka Hanzlová (2000-2005)

 The sea is very much present in Yeats’ work. Living on the coast,  I have been very conscious of the seascapes of Hiroshi Sugimoto and the ethereal effect of his long exposures:

Hiroshi Sugimoto, North Atlantic, Cape Breton, 1996

I hope there are echoes of this in my own work:

English Channel (2018)


Rosses Point, County Sligo (2018)

Lastly, I will mention the Japanese photographer, Rinko Kawauchi, not because I see any parallels with her work, but for her views on the contrasting appeals of the gallery exhibition and the photobook. In an interview for Unseen Magazine (#4, 2017) in connection with her publication “Halo”, Kawauchi said:

‘An exhibition allows a person to enter a location and experience the space, while books connect us to the present – we can decide to flip them open whenever we feel like it. Because of this, I feel like books allow their readers to build a close-knit connection to my images, more so than they might be able to do at a show. I often begin contemplating how I will sequence my images in a book right after I’ve finished processing the photographs. Making books of my projects is a form of expression that falls in line with the themes in my work, which is one of the reasons I’ve continued to make them throughout my practice.’

 It is precisely in order to encourage such a contemplative approach that I have always considered the primary outcome of my Yeats/Heaney project would be a photobook.




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