I always used to worry that I’d run out of places and things to photograph. It’s not so much that I let my photography define my identity, as I enjoy the whole process of research, photographing, and processing my photographs.
Over the past decade, my focus has moved away from urban exploration and more into the industrial landscape. Truth be told, it always was my focus, and urbex was less of a distraction and more of a pivot that allowed me to get a different perspective on the subject. As time has gone on, there have been fewer accessible places that I can get to, so I’ve pivoted back to the industrial landscape but with a different eye. My vision has matured and my preference for black and white has seen an improvement in my skill set and subsequent ability to articulate that vision.
I’ve definitely developed a style of my own, which is high contrast monochrome, normally with dark cloudy skies. While the skies definitely help balance the image, and I do have a preference for them, the fact of the matter is this – I live in the north of England not the north of Africa and that’s what the skies tend to look like round here. As an amateur photographer with a busy day job and family commitments, I don’t always have the luxury of choosing the optimum time and light for my photography. It’s more opportunistic than I’d like but I’m not complaining.
But unless I’m shooting on black and white film (not so much these days), I take in colour and still enjoy presenting images in colour. The visual style is often similar to my monochrome work, and it’s take a while for me to get the balance right from a contrast perspective.
My websites continue to be a source of pride for me and an extension of the creative process. The View From The North has been online since 2007 and has outlasted many better looking sites with more interesting explores. I don’t update it as often as I used to as my focus is more on Mechanical Landscapes, but I go on a few times a year to tidy things up here and there, just to keep the search engines happy. Mechanical Landscapes has been around in its current guise on Squarespace since 2016 after a couple of unproductive yesterday on Zenfolio. It’s certainly a slicker looking site (in my humble opinion) and most of my attention is on that site these days.
Something I consciously decided to do in 2010, knowing that I had a baby daughter on the way, was to do new things with the images other than put online on forums, Flickr and my website. As my ability to process the images has improved, and my body of work has grown, I’ve used those images in talks (35 done to date), exhibitions (5 done to date) and books (2 self published). They’ve also been published in newspaper and magazines.
2020 will see a continuation of that, with another exhibition in the planning stages and another book on the cards, but I can’t say too much at this stage about either. I’ve found that one thing can lead to another, especially if you know how to hustle a bit, have confidence in yourself and your work and are prepared to take chances. Not all will come off, but some will.
Will I be here in 2030 writing a review of another decade? Who knows! But I’d like to think that unless I suddenly lose my enthusiasm for something I’ve had a lifelong interest in, or suffer major health issues / drop dead, then there will be at least a few pictures for me to comment on in a few years time!
So – onwards!