I first came to photography as an art form and created finished works of art using photography. Additionally the camera, both film and video, were used to document my non-object based works of art such as Performance during the 1970's.
I came to wildlife photography through a more serendipitous route of photographing flowers. Through a rather curious chain of cause and effect I began by photographing flowers (flower galleries), first using a normal lens then moving to a using a macro lens. When sitting in any garden one cannot help but to observe that amongst the leaves and petals lives a whole host of insects (insect gallery) and so I also began to photograph them. As I sat in the garden with the flowers and insects I looked up to observe the birds feeding off the insects and so began my sojourn into wildlife photography.
I believe it is important to state that my belief in nature is not based on an idea that nature is some kind of ideal. To the contrary, as a physically challenged individual I know all too well that the laws of nature mean that the weak are often eaten or perish. It’s a testament to humankind that unlike most other creatures we tend to our sick and weak and provide a useful place for them in our societies throughout the ages.
I think that it is equally important to say that often in the world of high art, nature or depictions of wildlife are considered to be diminutive, the realm of what is comfortable to the masses of society – true pop culture: everyone loves the image of a beautiful creature living in pristine nature. I am fully aware that “art” is much more than that.
As an artist the majority of my work over the last four decades has dealt with pain and social alienation. This lead me to want to find some aspect of joy through my art, a joy I could no longer find after so many decades of chronicling consternation or arguing aesthetical principles based on ideal or pure form (see my work of the late 1980's).
I believe that art making / creativity is a process of catharsis. As I stated in the lobby of Photography I went to my garden to find solace from depression but what was important was that I took my camera with me. Instead of just lamenting, I began to document the beauty which I saw before me. I strongly adhere that “beauty” is truth and I do not mean a saccharine depiction of nature – this is not eco-porn. Nature is much more complex as can be seen in pollution or cataclysmic events but it can also be wonderful to behold. Sadly, and in my opinion, too many of us as artists have been looking so hard into our navels that we’ve forgotten that stopping to smell the flowers also has value. Too many in the art world believe that a photo of industrial carnage has more merit to society than the sheer amazement of watching a Hummingbird fly; documenting both are equally viable forms of expression, one might just be easier to consume as a statement.
So I just started taking pictures of what presented itself before me without making moral or often socially relative qualifications of what is beautiful. I do control the camera’s shutter release but I am fully aware that a work of art is not simply an escapist quest into the natural world.
I am trying to make art using the camera using a lexicon which encapsulates nature and it is giving me joy and a faith that life has meaning inside the created universe and our place in it.