EP29 – PHOTOMUSE on Ian Berry and The English

This episode and Photomuse is on the importance of the work of Magnum’s longest serving photographer, Ian Berry and, in particular, his 1978 book, The English.

I also outline my hope for a review of English documentary photography about the English. Ian Berry’s work has inspired me to attempt to start a conversation about the need for a new look at the value and unique properties of the work of English documentary photography.

Recording note – I taped this monologue on my phone. I think the quality is ok. I’d be very pleased to hear what you think about this as it certainly speeds up the process!

As ever I welcome your thoughts and comments. Please contact me at alex@flowphotographic.com.

I hope you enjoy this episode.


Check this new episode of Photographica


A Return to Film Confirms an Indelible Human Need for Connection with the Medium

This article first appeared in Black & White Photography Magazine Issue 214, April 2018


Images for On the Enduring Value of Film

The maxim goes that the most expensive thing the average person buys, after a house, is a car. Well, in my case, that ‘next most expensive thing’ is a film scanner. We (at the Flow printing studio) decided last year to bite the bullet and respond to the growing demand for film scanning and dive headfirst into very expensive and very old technology. In B+W 211 I argued that, through the prism of the change from film to digital we are at a fascinating nexus between the beginning and the end of the beginning of photography – this argument sits roughly on the same timeline (but not exactly) as the shift from film to digital. But in the last couple of years we have seen a 200% increase in the number of rolls of film we are processing and, subsequently, the scans we are making. What is driving this technological reverse and what does it tell us about the medium?

Images for On the Enduring Value of Film

Please allow me to belabour you with a couple of personal details which are essential in laying the groundwork for this month’s polemic. I have two occupations beyond writing; proprietor of a photographic printing studio (FLOW) and photographer. When I set up my first commercial darkroom in 2004 the world was film. Digital was insurgent but for most photographers who hadn’t yet invested in a ‘Leaf back’ the unthinking default was whichever film you favoured. For my own work I chose, with little thought or variation, Tri-X (which I rated at 200 and developed 3:1 20C 7.5 mins in Perceptol since you didn’t ask – a great scanning recipe incidentally) and for clients’ work I would develop film in D76 ‘deep tanks’ unless requested to do otherwise. Negative colour (C41) films like Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro (a personal favourite) were introduced in the early noughties to a booming professional photography market. And then came the ‘great switch’. Kodak released a digital SLR and virtually paid photographers to use it. The software was there and Apple made computers capable of easily coping with large file sizes in a way that non-computer type people could enjoy.

Images for On the Enduring Value of Film

By 2005 the great switch was underway and unstoppable. I invested in my first Canon 5D and, at the studio, we bought our first Epson inkjet printers which now carried pigment inks in ten colours. The creative energy was now digital. By 2008 we had stopped processing film and had all but closed the darkroom. Digital was here and it was fully backed by every major player in the market. For a company like ours that existed on commercial terms we had no option but to go with the Flow, so to speak. And, personally, I loved the new medium. Less messy, more dependable for assignments, more latitude than film – and for me – an untechnical photographer at best, a massive benefit in the loss of sleepless nights hoping that the photographs I had shot latently existed prior to development on some polyester rolls in a bag somewhere. Had I counted the rolls properly and had I argued hard enough to not have them X-rayed on my way back to London? Digital fixed all of these insecurities and led us into the endlessly mutable world of bit depth and pixels where anything was possible given access to processing power and skills.

Images for On the Enduring Value of Film

But we humans never make houses on shifting sand. Because that is what digital photography is – a permanently shifting base on which nothing can be built to last, nothing can be relied on to not have been changed. We humans are endlessly mutable ourselves – we are free to change our minds at will but it is in our nature to settle. To photography the digital era has represented a great unsettlement. What is the enduring value of anything if it changes from what it is today? Digital photographic technology, for all its wonderful benefits, is not a human medium. It is essential to humanity that we have the technology but it is an alien form that we humans can never truly own because we can never directly engage with the technology that makes the pictures and we can never call a digital photograph ‘finished’.

Images for On the Enduring Value of Film

And so, as I report from the ‘coalface’ of the photographic world where my business has watched the comings and goings of photographic technology I can now tell you that film is back. And in a big way. Shot mainly by younger photographers who have grown up in the Photograscene era (see B+W TP210) film is making a huge comeback. I would say that C41 processing of colour film (Kodak Portra 400 and 800 in particular) is where most of the resurgence can be found but we handle a lot of Tri-X, Plus-X, FP4 and HP5 as well. For these photographers who enjoy the quality of film there are many more reasons that they are eschewing digital. They love the restrictions, or immutability, of the analog medium. They love that you need to be careful with your exposure; how many and how shot. They love that they get a physical rendition of the light that they experienced at the time of exposure. They love that a sense of place comes as standard with an exposed negative, they love the grain that tells that story of the chemistry that has made their image. They love that an exposure can be wrong. And for this new understanding of photography we have digital to thank. For how could we have been forced to re-evaluate film if it weren’t for an attractive interloper encouraging us to look with new eyes on the long held object of our hearts’ desire.

Images for On the Enduring Value of Film

And so we bought a big Imacon scanner which monthly payments make me shudder. We can’t deny all that digital has bought us. Scanning film is, if you will, a very happy medium. But we invested in response to a new appreciation of photographic process. A new acknowledgment, consciously or not, of the essential, immutable human particle that is present in film and of which, digital is utterly devoid.

On the Argument for Providing Questions Not Answers – ESSAY FROM BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE EDITION 213

On the Responsibility of Photographers to Provide Questions not Answers

This article first appeared in Black & White Photography Magazine Issue 213, March 2018

Evidence – the word weighs heavily on photographers. A photograph, although known to be the least reliable of artefacts (as I’ve written in these pages before) carries the mythical weight of ‘evidence’ – evidence that something actually happened. A photograph is a myth disguised as a fact. Photographers of all varieties might be better off appraising the substantive weight of a photograph in a more reliable way – as that of the reliable questioner rather than the harbinger of unquestionable truth. The maximum evidential value of a photograph is found in the questions it raises but never in answers it importunes.

When we pick up a camera and frame a shot we are becoming expert in one thing – the composition of that image at that time. Certain photographers like Antoine D’Agata and Antonin Kratochvil have sometimes eschewed deliberate composition but most photographers use the viewfinder both to include the elements that they see as necessary and to exclude all those that are not. This calculation in any composition will necessarily leave almost the entire world out of the image. What we, the viewers, will see of the photographer’s gaze at the moment of exposure is the sum total of everything that wasn’t excluded in the real-time editing process that goes into taking a picture.

The resulting photographic view from any single exposure cannot be relied on as an objective truth that will be received by everyone in the same way. We (and I include the photographer themselves in this) cannot possibly triangulate all the available data and come up with an objective truth. There are exceptions to this such as forensic photography where prosaic and reliably gathered data can perhaps provide evidence of an objective truth but, for most other purposes we have to rely on the view being presented to us as evidence that the photographer was witness to the events as depicted and that this depiction reliably communicates the most urgent and truthful aspect of the scene in question. This assumption relates as much to landscape photography as it does to images of conflict. In almost all cases the photographer is judge and jury on what constitutes the best image. We have only his or her say to go on. This means that every photograph is subjective and has no inalienable claim to objective truth.

In the last paragraph I’ve laid out why we should view any narrative depicted in a photograph with suspicion but I excluded images made for purely abstract, artistic reasons – images that attempt to communicate something that is, perhaps, unsayable in any other way. A photographer need not tell his viewer how life is lived. But a photographer can raise questions about existence that force the viewer to reflect on the conditions of their own existence. Alternatively, when it comes to aesthetics we might tire quickly of someone showing us a picture of something that they believe contains a complete explication of objective beauty. However we can become transfixed when we see the work of a photographer whose aesthetic approach is a private journey of comprehension on which we are invited to become fellow travellers. When we sense that the photographer is showing us a glimpse of their attempt to understand the world – the questions they are asking themselves – without showing us their conclusions, then we can join them on their own journey without being excluded by anything so crude as an attempt at a statement of fact.

To give you two example of very different photographers whose work has enduring power owing to the questions they raise rather than the conclusions they draw, please consider the work of Tony Ray-Jones and Saul Leiter. Ray-Jones’s seminal 1974 book, A Day Off, sets out in documentary form to show the British at leisure. It has become one of the great works of British documentary photography not because it defines the subject but because it raises the right questions. Ray-Jones was too sensitive to believe that his work could attempt to define the British at play. By allowing his pictures to trace, with the lightest of touches, the form of the people and the environment he sort to depict, he allows something grand to happen; the viewer must raise questions of their own relationship with the world. If you’re British then you will consider the images against your own experience of the people you know and the country you live in. If you are foreign to Anglo Saxon culture, when it is set so lyrically as it is in the pages of this great book, you will be forced to consider your own.

Saul Leiter raises questions of universality which do not seek to represent any particular culture or formal organisation. Through the use of colour and form Leiter queries what it means to live in a world which is abstract until we impose meaning on it. For Leiter there is no objective meaning to be found in his work. We understand that he is feeling his way, navigating the world image by image. It is futile for artists and documenters to co-opt photography to provide confirmation of their discovery of a certain truth. It is not possible to do more than capture the sense of a thing, to offer compositions to which it is impossible to append a full stop.

Notes on the Images

These images were shot in the Marlborough Sound which is the expanse of water connecting the North and South islands of New Zealand. There is no way of defining this place (or any other) so the best I can do is to break the whole into tiny pieces. I focus on some of them and hope that, in presenting them together, I can raise enough questions in the minds of the viewers that provoke an instinctive reaction and through this a connection with the place depicted.


Why photography cannot be judged along with other artforms- ESSAY FROM BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE EDITION 212

Why photography cannot be judged along with other artforms
This article first appeared in Black & White Photography Magazine Issue 212, February 2018

What is a photograph? asked Roland Barthes in his seminal book Camera Obscura. An answer to this question is being attempted in every fine art photography MA course. However, the medium’s purpose and definition will not be found in the colleges and universities but in the relationship photography has with the people who use it most, i.e. you and me.

It is long since anyone questioned the right of photography to be considered a high art form. Through practioners such as Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Bill Viola and Cindy Sherman photography has secured its place as a medium of high art. But unlike other media, like painting and sculpture, photography resists categorisation as being the exclusive preserve of high art. This is photography’s great strength.

Photography is a huge genre but, unlike painting, it has many guises. These facets include; art, science, journalism, family snapshots, portraiture to name just a few. For our colleges to question the nature of photography and to try to guide students to find a new way to use it does not fundamentally alter the nature of photography because the medium is used across so many different cultural platforms. This is in direct contrast to the questioning by art colleges as to what the nature of painting is, for example.

Painting is a medium that is entirely artistic in the sense that it is only engaged with for the purposes of art. If one university is to examine the nature of painting and one of its students were to rise in status and visibility and paint according to a set of newly minted attitudes and techniques, then the very nature of what it means ‘to paint’ might be fundamentally altered. This new approach to the canvas wil,l in turn, filter down to the work of all painters in the same way that haute couture is the aesthetic elder sister to the more homely, pret a porter.

By contrast a college which implores its students to find new pathways in photography will have little bearing on the wider development of photographic process. This is not to say that photography is not a worthy medium for the highest level of artistic enquiry or that it shouldn’t occupy a place amongst the other great genre that spawn the greatest contemporary art. Photography is and always will be a means of artistic expression and should be studied and practised at the highest level as a means of interrogating the human condition.

If painting were to disappear, or at least the techniques taught in schools, then the entire artform would cease to progress. Compare that with photographic development. If art schools stopped teaching photography what would happen? The answer to this is that photographic technology, technique and its whole absorption into the mainstream of cultural life would continue unabated. And not just continue, it would blossom and develop at the rate and speed that a human population hungry to record itself would push it.

Cultural phenomena that appear within the realms of science, technology and art cannot come from the colleges but from the gatekeepers to the new connected culture that is social media. The most important cultural tendency of recent years is unquestionably the ‘selfie’.

The selfie is what happens when humans and technology combine in a dynamic form (literally and metaphorically) of self expression – an expression impossible without ubiquitous access to photography. This cultural meme adopted by so many people with access to the technology and means of dissemination was not taught in schools yet it’s effect on society as a whole is huge. The art schools can only react to it and academics can only comment on it. The selfie is by no means the only cultural form of expression that has occurred completely independently of the art schools. Photojournalism came about as technology gave new ways of gathering evidence.

Photography wasn’t an ideal that was discussed in universities to which industry reacted – it was the opposite. Industry developed new technologies and we, ever questing, inspired humans, set those new machines to our purpose. Photography is a medium born out of necessity. Painting, sculpture and other plastic art forms are not. They may be born out of the necessary human compulsion to express itself but they are not connected to the human need to advance through technology. Many great photographers have attended art school but few greats have emerged from ‘fine art photography’ MA courses. Art is a state of being, a permanently evolving reaction to the world. Photography is a technology where art and humanity meet but photography will always be its own maser.

Have We Experienced the End of the Beginning of Photography?- ESSAY FROM BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE EDITION 211

Have we experienced the end of the beginning of photography?
This article first appeared in Black & White Photography Magazine Issue 211, January 2018

Assuming that the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, and a few other notable thinkers and scientists aren’t right then human civilisation is set to last a bit longer. And, although, as Mark Twain said, history doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes, we can be reasonably sure that we have a few more centuries to go, at least even if these Brexit infected times look like the End of Days has begun.

Boys Playing Football, Taroudant

Lets agree that what we call photography started in about 1830 give or take a few years. And now, in 2017, some 190 years later we are where we are photographically speaking. That is to say that we have moved from the realm of brown bottles containing poisonous substances to the bland world of flat, shiny bricks designed for chatting that also happen to have small lenses on them.

Poultry Seller, Taroudant

Evidence that human beings have shown signs of an innate drive to record the world around them since before we were human would make it safe to assume that, if we have a future then photography has a future too. If this is the case, and I surely I hope it is, then where can we place ourselves, right now, in the development of photography and how will we be written about by future historians? How will photography look and what will shape it as it develops? The answer to this last question is perhaps for another piece but let’s continue to examine the unique time in the development of photography that we inhabit.

I wonder, of all the people who take pictures today, what proportion of us has ever taken a picture on film. We are living in a unique time because there are so many of us around who grew up and, indeed, remember a time before digital. I can recall going to one of the first demonstrations of Photoshop in the early Nineties when it was still just a tool for manipulating film originated images (having been scanned on the ‘system’ as it was known).

Man, Taroudant

Lets make another assumption; when did the digital era start? For me it started in about 2004 so lets say for the sake of historical accuracy the digital era started in 2000. Thats only seventeen years ago – roughly 11% of the time that photography has existed. And how far and fast has the technology developed since then? This means that you and I live in a really special time in the development of photography. Future historians will call this an age of transition from one kind of science to another, from one way of thinking about photography to another.

View froim the Roof of the Palais Salaam, Taroudant 2011

Mohamad IV of Morocco, Taroudant

To make my argument work I have to make several more assumptions. A new one I’m going to posit is that the purely chemical based era of photography represents the beginning of the medium whereas the advent of digital technology heralded the inevitable mastering of photography by machines for the purpose for which machines were invented, i.e. rapid and wide dissemination and consumption. We can describe this transition in another way; the silver halide era of photography was about the recording of experience for almost exclusively personal consumption. As technology advanced, the medium was taken from the private and into the public domain as mechanisation made distribution more possible.

Rebuilding the Wall Around Taroudant

In this way a photograph has gone from being a private document to a public record. Put another way, photography has grown up just as a child does; first spending all its years in its own private world and then, as it becomes an adult, moving into the world at large.

Taroudant by Alex Schneideman

Another way that photography has recently come of age, linked inevitably to the arguments already outlined here, is the way that a photograph is consumed by the viewer. The earliest photographic impressions, fugitive as they were, would have been held as delicately and preciously in the regard of the viewer as a fledgling bird fallen from the nest.

Taroudant by Alex Schneideman

Rapidly, as images became first ‘fixable’ and then reproducible, the value that we placed in each reproduction diminished making the content of the image more valuable than the print itself (this is another essay for another issue!). As the inherent value of the photograph has changed so has the viewer and this change in relationship between consumer and medium accounts, in a substantial way, for the way photography has grown as an art form and a technology.

We who are alive today and active photographically have a unique part to play in the continuing development of the medium. Even our children are returning to film, hugely fortunate that the chemicals, techniques and expertise still readily exist for voyages of discovery into outdated yet mysterious photochemical reactions. The past is chemical and the future is digital. The only time that we will ever straddle the beginning and the end of the beginning of the medium is now.

What value does black and white photography have in a world of colour?- ESSAY FROM BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE EDITION 210

What value does black and white photography have in a world of colour?
This article first appeared in Black & White Photography Magazine Issue 210, Winter 2017

We are now in the third photographic century. What is the continued relevance of black and white photography in a colour filled world? Or, in other words, what is the argument for monochrome representations of a polychromatic world. I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs but it might be beneficial to this topic if we remind ourselves of the history that has led us out of the dark age of non-photography to where we are now; an age that may be described, by the sociologists of many millennia hence, as the beginning of the ‘Photograscene’ era – the era which will not exist without photography.

All early emulsions were only able to record one of the primary colours. The first emulsions were made purely of silver halide which is only sensitive to blue and UV light (hence the astonishing white-blue eyes of portraits of the era) and insensitive to the other two primary colours; red and green. Then, in 1873, a German mineralogist called Hermann Vogel, discovered that by adding a dye to the emulsion he could extend the sensitivity to larger areas of the spectrum. So now film became ‘Orthochromatic’; sensitive to green and blue, but still red did not register. Red tones still registered as dark areas in an image.

An ‘all-seeing’ emulsion was the result of Vogel’s continued work adding dyes and altering emulsion base colour which resulted in the first panchromatic film; a film that could see red, green and blue. Through a process known as additive colour it became possible to render a full colour moving image by combining three black and white (panchromatic) images with different colour filters. Known as Kinemacolor or Prizma Color this process gained popularity in the UK and US and several colour movies were made this way in the early years of the 20th century. Unfortunately it was very expensive and there was some industrial squabbling between the inventors of the respective processes which critically slowed the early advance of colour film making.

However, the failure of the movie industry to adopt the new panchromatic film meant that this new monochrome emulsion, responsive to all areas of the spectrum was of massive benefit to photographers and still camera manufacturers such as Leica who adapted the 35mm wide film stock to the purposes of taking brilliant quality ‘panchromatic’ black and white images.

By 1935 Kodak Eastman had created the ‘Tripack’ film that became known as ‘Kodachrome’. And then in 1941 they introduced a way of making prints from the transparencies so now photographers had a way of reproducing and disseminating visions of the world in something like a natural colour spectrum. But what was added in the way of colour was deemed by many to ‘take something away’ from the power of a monochrome photographic image. This paradox pertains today and perhaps nowhere more than in the pages of this highly regarded publication, dedicated as it is to monochrome photography.

What is it that still draws people to a representation of the world without colour? As I write this I am on a train travelling from London to Crewkerne in Dorset. The view through the windows is gorgeous, with that peculiar (to southern England) mix of bright greens and purple blue that are the fields and sky on this early Autumn day. I’ve taken a picture out of the train window and I’m looking at it in colour and black and white in an attempt to understand the value of each. Here goes my explanation…

The colour version is informative in a literal sense. And, once I’ve removed myself from the scene, and I take a look at this picture in a few weeks when the weather turns bad, perhaps I’ll derive a pleasure from the combination of colour and tone as well as the bucolic scene it represents. Turning to the black and white version I am confronted with an interpretation of the scene. It records the terrain as faithfully as the colour version and it is clear that the sun is shining in a cloudless sky but here the meaning of the two images bifurcates. The reduction in optical data offered by the monochrome image requires greater engagement and subconscious insertion of ourselves into the image than the colour image requires. In the case of the latter our brains are tricked into thinking that all the information available is there which has a deadening effect on our imaginations rendering the image more a depiction rather than a human interpretation of a scene.

There is also an effect of simplification that is afforded by monochrome images that lends them better to the job of telling a story in one shot. A photograph’s essential elements can be manifested or hidden making the monochrome image a much more graphic pictorial representation of the world. In this way a black and white picture is more a myth than a fact; a quality to which we humans are perennially drawn. Colour photography (without post-enhancement) is necessary for photojournalism as colours are part of truth telling but ‘beautiful’ colour is often, as mentioned above, appreciated as a deviation from ‘the natural’. Digital raw files are so devoid of deviation that they need to be deviated through process to make them attractive to the human eye.

Lastly, a monochrome representation of a scene will always be a man-made interpretation. Nature is colour; man’s imagination can encompass black and white only through the complex combination of the neural system and psychology peculiar to human beings. Only we humans choose to reduce the values of nature to shades of grey to better represent the externalised manifestation of our innermost vision.

Black and white photography has long been a choice rather than a necessity. As we travel further and further away from the monochrome-only era some artists will always choose to tell their visual stories through monochrome images because of, and not despite, their deviation from nature.

EP28 – Conversation with Loupe Magazine Editor and photographer, Luke Archer

Luke Archer is the editor of Loupe Magazine, a printed photography zine which “showcases outstanding images and engaging projects” and is distributed free through various stockists of which Flow Photographic is proudly one.

I was fascinated to understand how such a high quality and free magazine could come into being in a world dominated by commercialism and the cult of celebrity. Here is a magazine that offers a quiet discourse on photography in a way that is missing from many of the mainstream offerings in print and online.

Luke goes into his background and generously offers up factors that have driven him and the other people dedicated to the Loupe project to produce a magazine that punches way above its class in the plethora of photographic publications available. 

Loupe also engages with Instagram in an innovative way, using it to bring submitted work to a wider audience.

Issue 6 is just out – at the time of posting – and you can find copies at any of the stockists listed on their site or check out their Instagram.


Insta @loupemage

Please let others know about the Photographica Podcast by rating us in iTunes  ? and your are welcome to leave a comment too. It really is the best way to get the message out.

If you’d like to discuss any aspect of Photographica podcasts or printing your work you can get in touch with me at alex@flowphotographic.com or visit the Flow Photographic website.

Thanks for listening,


PS Thanks to Chad Lelong for the music!

Check this new episode of Photographica


On the Nature of Location
This article first appeared in Black & White Photography Magazine Issue 209, December 2017


Location of Self photos by Alex Schneideman

If I were to take a walk down your street and take some pictures would the resulting images owe more to the physical nature your street or to me? Perhaps you might also walk with me and take some pictures simultaneously – would your photographs of the world you know so well be qualitatively different from mine? Or does the person behind the camera provide the viewer with the ‘real’ location – with the actual topology and events recorded merely playing a part in the creation of the image? In other words, should we consider that a photographer might become ‘a location’ in their own right through the medium of photography.


Thank you for bearing with me during that tortuous opening paragraph. In Geoff Dyer’s book, The Ongoing Moment (2005) in which he suggests a narrative for the history of photography, he considers that some photographers may be considered as ‘locations’ in their own right. Dyer argues that some photographers’ engagement with the world they inhabit is so complete and inextricably linked and borne out over time that no matter what (or where) they photograph their images accrue a certain immutable sense of the photographer regardless of the subject matter.

Dyer offers the work of James Nachtwey as an example of a photographer who’s work bends location to his imagery. For those acquainted with Nachtwey’s work then you will know that he may be considered Capa’s rightful heir. Nachtwey has travelled the globe (and continues to do so) for over thirty years. His pictures of war, depravation and disenfranchisement have illustrated the dark side of humanity. But in every image there is the sense of the man himself. A man who has made himself a conduit for all that is terrifying and humane. In Nachtwey’s work is an ‘everyman’ view of the world – should ‘everyman’ have the courage and creative drive of James Nachtwey. Nachtwey is the photographer of all that is left behind; from the bloody handprints left on a living room wall in Pec, (August 1999) to the faces of Albanian Kosovan women and children fleeing war in a truck (Kosovo August, 1999). The hand prints and faces tell the same story and it is this living history that has become the ‘location’ of Nachtwey’s work. Even ghosts need their story to be told and many have chosen Nachtwey as their bard.

But not every photographer will inhabit the world as Nachtwey. Yet perhaps it is the ‘holy grail’ of photography – to achieve the unalloyed ‘voice’ that speaks of the world that we individually inhabit and record. A world that, in other words, is less dependant on physical location than the fact it is recorded by the individual photographer. Although physical location can’t be denied in a photograph it can be seen as of lesser importance if you consider that the same scene could be photographed by two photographers and the resulting images would almost certainly be different. Different aspects of the same scene may be examined simultaneously and to what would we adduce the difference in resulting images? Any variation in vision would come directly from the particular psychology of each photographer and from what each determined as being most salutary or captivating. A reading of the photographic process, in this case, finds that the photographer becomes primary to the location and the location provides a canvas on to which the photographer must project their own sensitivities and proclivities.

What hasn’t been touched on yet is the question of prolificacy. We cannot claim to exist photographically in a notional ‘location’ without making many, many images. A photographer who occasionally and with little conviction presses the shutter on his iPhone is much less likely to create a world for others to inhabit through scarce imagery. There is no body of evidence or road map for the way this photographer inhabits the world. And so the body of work created by photographers who make images with a consistent effort of will and attention will develop a location that only that photographer may inhabit.


As Dyer says, towards the end of The Ongoing Moment, “Nachtwey’s photographs are a kind of destiny for the medium as a whole, a place where photography has always had the potential to end up.” Those last three words are interesting – “to end up”. They imply that, in some way, all of photography has culminated in the work of one man. At the time of writing this book perhaps it could have been said that Nachtwey’s work was the apotheosis of photography but twelve years have passed since then and, of course, new photographers with new visions have appeared. It is high time that Dyer’s brilliant book was updated. Much has happened in the interim and new themes have emerged in photography that deserve Dyer’s particular consideration.

EP – 27 Conversation with Professor Greg Currie (republish edited)

This conversation between me, Alex Schneideman, and Professor Greg Currie is a discussion about the edges of reality and how that concerns photography and image making.

Greg Currie is Professor of Philosophy and Head of Research at York University. The conversation was inspired by another podcast (Philosophy Bites) in which Greg talked about the nature of film, addressing questions about perception and time in relation to the movies.

I was thrilled that Greg agreed to the recording. I write about ideas and the philosophy of photography every month in B+W Photography Magazine so it was a chance to present some ideas to a man who is ideally suited to engage with them.

Greg’s patience with me is awesome and his authority is underlined by the way he engaged calmly with me in what must have been a trying hour for him!

Please listen and let me know if anything occurs to you as a result.

Please let others know about the Photographica Podcast by rating us in iTunes  ? and your are welcome to leave a comment too. It really is the best way to get the message out.

If you’d like to discuss any aspect of Photographica podcasts or printing your work you can get in touch with me at alex@flowphotographic.com or visit the Flow Photographic website.

Thanks for listening,


PS Thanks to Chad Lelong for the music!

Check this new episode of Photographica

EP – 27 Conversation with the philosopher Greg Currie

This conversation between me, Alex Schneideman, and Professor Greg Currie is a discussion about the edges of reality and how that concerns photography and image making.

Greg Currie is Professor of Philosophy and Head of Research at York University. The conversation was inspired by another podcast (Philosophy Bites) in which Greg talked about the nature of film, addressing questions about perception and time in relation to the movies.

I was thrilled that Greg agreed to the recording. I write about ideas and the philosophy of photography every month in B+W Photography Magazine so it was a chance to present some ideas to a man who is ideally suited to engage with them.

Greg’s patience with me is awesome and his authority is underlined by the way he engaged calmly with me in what must have been a trying hour for him!

Please listen and let me know if anything occurs to you as a result.

Please let others know about the Photographica Podcast by rating us in iTunes  – and your are welcome to leave a comment too. It really is the best way to get the message out.

If you’d like to discuss any aspect of Photographica podcasts or printing your work you can get in touch with me at alex@flowphotographic.com or visit the Flow Photographic website.

Thanks for listening,


PS Thanks to Chad Lelong for the music!




The conversation was recorded at the Groucho Club in London and there’s a bit of background noise 

Check this new episode of Photographica


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