Pure and simple – I take photographs. I have taken photographs for much of my 70 years; first as a child with the family Box Brownie then through a series of second-hand cameras and various night classes and now as a storyteller using images.
It was while working with the photographer Geoff Turner studying for a City and Guilds in black and white photography that I started to refine my work and became a licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society.
Around the same time, I started taking photographs of the work of Action Transport Theatre, an Arts Council England funded professional theatre company for young people based in Cheshire. I was interested in the whole process of making theatre from the first ideas of the writer, through the development with a creative team to the finished production and audience response.
I became ATT’s in-house photographer and the result over the years has been a huge archive of the company’s work and a bank of images for marketing and exhibition. The first images I took used BW film processed by me and colour shots processed commercially.
Then the digital revolution opened up a whole new way of working, giving me not only the opportunity to take a substantial amount of images from which to select the best but also the means to organise an archive of all my work. Although advances in digital technology have given me a great freedom to experiment, I use the basic techniques I used in my work with film in the darkroom. I only ever use available light and do not manipulate my images digitally although some have been turned into graphic art for marketing purposes by others.
Not all of my work is about theatre but, almost without exception, it is about storytelling. Sometimes the recording of the process of a piece of theatre spills out into the stories behind the story. My own work has been influenced particularly by Brassai, Humphrey Spender and Jane Bown. They show an interest in the story behind the image and this is a style that I have developed myself.
I have travelled to South Africa a number of times to record theatre work in Soweto and been drawn into the stories of people who might be actors, writers, musicians or audiences. What has emerged is a powerful story of people desperate to talk about their struggle through the medium of music, dance and theatre in a culture that is rich in talent but poor in opportunity.
The number of stories I have captured in images also tells part of my story as a photographer. Each story is represented by a series of images; the places I have travelled to, the people I have met and sometimes been inspired by – and of those who were barely aware that I was photographing their ‘moment’.
Each of these stories, its background and context, will appear regularly as a virtual exhibition. I look forward to sharing my work. Comment is welcome but not mandatory! My intention is to share my enjoyment and focus on untold stories; often to give the voiceless a voice.