I don’t spend much time prowling for photos, but galleries and museums are a good place because people are preoccupied. And there are often uncluttered backgrounds, which I like because I like simple photos.
The idea I am always chasing is to find something where there is something going on in the photo. If there is nothing going on then for me it is not a photograph – at least not with an emotional connection.
I do my best to stay away from ridicule and easy targets. I look for subjects that invite us to see the shared experience. And it’s hard, and the photos I see are few and far between.
I took this photo in a corridor between two galleries. The woman seemed to me to have come to a stop. Beyond the rope barrier there was something, I don’t recall what, maybe a door.
But it was just a little rope and easy to step over. But the tilt of her head, the set of her shoulders, the hand on the wall… they all said to me that she was involved in something that had brought her to a halt.
We’ve all been there, so I felt that I could relate to it in a universal way and that it would make a photograph. And if she wasn’t thinking or feeling any of that, it didn’t matter because I could read it that way – it was readable that way.
I went to listen to a couple of authors at the Book Festival in the summer. They wrote graphic novels and one of them described how for her last book she had had people pose for her in little scenes that she would adapt for the book.
And she said that when she drew the scenes, she over-accentuated their positions.
So if someone was supposed to act surprised, she had them almost falling backwards with their arms in exaggerated positions. And maybe it is like that with photography – that things need to be very easy to see.
How important is photography in my life?
Very. There are always new sights slipping in there, contrasts of light and dark, blocks of colour, pleasing staircases, curtains, people, dogs, walls, corners. The list goes on.
There are giants of photography and I want to talk about some of the people whose work I admire. Werner Bischof, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Larry Burrows, Robert Mapplethorpe, Chris Killip, and others.