Determination or Selfishness?

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

“Depth of Field”; © Ian Poole, Vancouver 2016

At a time of the year when considered wisdom would be to produce an opinion piece about planning, goal setting and collation of ideas, it was a chance encounter at a great photographic exhibition that generated alternate thought processes.

The Vancouver Art Gallery presented Walker Evans – Depth of Field.   Co-organised by the Josef Albers Museum Quaddrat in Germany and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; in collaboration with the Vancouver Art Gallery, the exhibition featured more than 200 black and white and colour prints.  The photographs had been curated from many worldwide sources and was a comprehensive survey of Evans’ output.  Exhilarating to view on every level, including the contemporary digital prints hanging happily side by side with vintage gelatin photographs.

But it was whilst digging deeper into Evans’ background that his determination was clearly on show.  His troubled relationship with Roy Stryker, head of the Information Division of the Farm Security Administration, (FSA)  was a case of two determined men butting heads.  In a sense, the FSA gave Evans the opportunity to create some of his best images and Evans gave the FSA some of their best images.  His ex-wife Isabelle Storey describes him as shallow, selfish and heartless.  Evans described Edward Steichen’s major work The Family of Man as overrated sentimental rubbish.

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Robert Frank’s Stove; © Walker Evans, 1971

Yet one of the gentle lyrical photographs from the Vancouver exhibition was titled Robert Frank’s Stove, which would indicate that Evans and Frank were close friends late in Evan’s life.

Pablo Picasso’s seven female muses were but the tip of the iceberg of a self-indulgent lifestyle that he required to maintain his artistic output.  Picasso is famous for telling one of his mistresses, Françoise Gilot in 1943, that ‘…for me there are only two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats’.

This politically incorrect behaviour is not uncommon in the art world.

The photographer Tina Modotti managed to, eventually, reverse the male sexist treatment of female partners.  But it was only after a six year relationship with Edward Weston that Modotti was able to pursue a similar life style.  Although she made no attempt to describe her male partners as her muses.

Edward Weston managed to come close to the Picasso style with his string of models and muses whilst married to Flora May Chandler.  His four sons with Flora, included Brett, who would go on to become both his father’s assistant and eventually the protector of the Edward Weston legacy.  Brett went on to marry and divorce four times.

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Charis Wilson; © Edward Weston

Other than Modotti, Edward Weston’s most famous mistress/muse/model was Charis Wilson, eventually marrying her in 1939 and then divorcing in 1946.  The relationship produced some of Weston’s most recognised photographs.  Creatively the process worked for Weston but there is little documentation to say whether the relationship was as productive or rewarding for Wilson.

Garry Winogrand, despite being married twice, was not so much a womaniser as a driven photographer.  His photographic legacy on death was 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film, 6,500 rolls of developed but not proofed exposures, and about 3,000 rolls only realised as far as contact sheets being made.  His feeling was that photography was all about creating (exposing) the image and the post-production was of little interest to him.  Winogrand taught briefly at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology in the early 1970s, but this period in academia was driven more by financial necessity than a desire to mentor students.  His clear aim was to continue to create photographs.

It is this mission that drives many artists, in every art form and therefore including photography, and delineates the character mores of these people.  For some of them it is a dogged determination to succeed, but it is at all times tinged with more than a touch of selfishness.

Dare we call that apparent selfishness the mark of a great artist?

Or is that too long a bow to draw?


Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 3.09.22 PMThis essay first appeared in
February 2017 edition of
f11::for photographers and aficionados,
page 160.

Matters of Gravity

To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of universal gravitation before going for a walk”  –  Edward Weston

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Pepper; © Edward Weston, 1930

For the commercial photographer it sometimes appears pedantic to overly consider aesthetics when seeking the commensurate financial compensation for work performed in the current business environment.

For the amateur photographer chasing awards and citations within their club environment it sometimes seems essential to work the rule of thirds to its predictable and very likely dire death.

Should the rules of composition be considered prior to making a photograph?

Well of course they should.  But wouldn’t it be better if this, and many other rules, were ingrained via education and consistent repetitive practice?  After all, the best musicians practice every day.  Great artists are constantly working at their easel.  Writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle produced a solid 3,000 words per day, whilst Ernest Hemingway produced a more miserly 500 words per day – but they, and many others, kept up this rate day after day.  When questioned about his daily output, Doyle was recorded as saying “anything is better than stagnation”.

In this day and age, where the combination of simple photographic fixes with apparently bullet proof cameras producing exposures approaching perfection, the need for formal education has never been more apparent.  Learning the rules might seem a little on the tedious side, but a solid grounding with this knowledge makes the subsequent artistic breaking of them a matter of course.

Doing so with the confidence of gut instinct is far better than consulting a tedious check list of “rules” set out in bullet points on a crumpled piece of card in your back pocket.  A little like those cheat sheet cards containing illustrations that were once favoured for posing portrait subjects.

Equally destructive is the often absolute reliance on formulaic rules of photography favoured by some camera club judges.  This usually comes about from a desire to enforce a certain standard upon judges who come from many and varied backgrounds and experiences.  This approach to standardisation is as damaging as having a couple of rogue judges rampaging through a photography society.  This lowering of standards to that of the perceived average photographer is as counter-productive as the commercial photographer who attempts to bring a veneer of creativity to their output via a forced reliance on contemporary aesthetics.

There are no simple fixes to this age-old photographic conundrum.  Although often overlooked in current times, one simple answer is grounded in a formal course of study (either photographic or artistic) followed by a period of time working in the shadow of an established practitioner, prior to embarking into the world of commercial image making. Instead, today many choose the quick fix money making alternative of purchasing a sophisticated camera capable of producing sharp and well exposed images, printing a few business cards and hanging the virtual open-for-business sign that a simple website now represents.

It is at this point that aesthetics fly out of the window, lost perhaps forever to the commercial imperative.  The end result?  A slow decline in professional standards, and less effective, less persuasive visual communication.

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Pablo Picasso; © David Douglas Duncan

The downside of this unsophisticated approach is that an unskilled photographer with the gift of the gab and some slick presentation skills is sometimes able to take work away from a practicing professional with years of solid experience, often by providing a cheaper solution.

 

The words, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”, were attributed to Pablo Picasso, and it is difficult to argue with the master.


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This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p156, issue 61 :: December/January, 2017.

 

Hong Kong

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Hong Kong Abstract; © Ian Poole, 2017

With several visits to this intriguing island destination, I am always struggling to find a definitive viewpoint.  I suspect that this lack is its strength, as well as its weakness.

It can be overwhelming with the huge population jam-packed into towering high rise apartment blocks in such a small space.  But it is the isolated and cropped views that are giving me most reward.

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Apartment; © Ian Poole, 2017

Taking a voyeuristic approach is of some assistance.  But also the method of finding a subject/location and then attempting to isolate as much as possible can work.

For such a busy and active location there are many quiet and simple patterns lending themselves to documentation.

 

 

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Love; © Ian Poole, 2017

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Lovely Self-Portrait; © Ian Poole, 2017

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Contemplation on the Stairs; © Ian Poole, 2017

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Rainbow; © Ian Poole, 2017.

As you can see stairways were becoming a repeating theme.

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Early Morning Pedestrians; © Ian Poole, 2017

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1:5, Beware; © Ian Poole, 2017.

And a monochrome is always a nice way to finish up.


 

 

Walker Evans – “Depth of Field”

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Vancouver Art Gallery #1; © Ian Poole, Canada, 2017.

In my thought processes, the photographic output of Walker Evans (1903-75) was over-shadowed by the mid twentieth century photographers Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander;  the Farm Security Administration (FSA) members like Dorothea Lange, Marion Post Wolcott, and Gordon Parks.  Whilst Australian heroes in Dr Michael Coyne and Tim Page piqued my visual interest.  The paucity of names on this list is a clear indication of my lack of knowledge of the genre.

Today I expanded that knowledge by a quantum of 100%!  Whilst others in my travel group were heading to Whistler for skiing – I was aiming to catch the final days of this block buster exhibition Walker Evans – Depth of Field at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  I was not disappointed.  Gathered with the skill that only a good curator possesses, from a multitude of sources, this exhibition documented some of Evans earliest work right through to his late output using Polaroid materials.  Colour even!

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Road Side Stand near Birmingham Alabama, 1936; © Walker Evans

I got to see personal favourites (the old reliable house mover) and discovered many new and ironic photographs (damaged).

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Truck and Sign; © Walker Evans, 1929-30.

These further fed my interest.  Of the monochrome photographs, there was a delightful mix of gelatin silver prints (both vintage and later printed) and ink jet.  The difference of printing techniques was never a consideration, such was the quality of both old and new.  The viewer concentrated on content not on technique.  I suspect even Evans would have approved.

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Robert Frank’s Stove, Cape Breton Island; © Walker Evans, 1971

Another intriguing find was a photograph of Robert Frank’s stove.  Such a personal insight into Frank’s personal space seems to indicate that the two great photographers had a knowledge of each other (albeit late in Evan’s life).

Evans trip to Cuba produced some delightful photographs including another of my personal favourites.  It was a joy to see three variants, including a large inkjet print, all side by side for the viewer’s pleasure.

Such curatorship is wonderful when it is carefully crafted to seduce and educate the viewer.

 

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Citizen of Downtown Havana; © Walker Evans, 1933

A pleasant gallery interlude and totally worth a trip around the world to view.  Thank you Vancouver Art Gallery.

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Vancouver Art Gallery #2; © Ian Poole, Canada, 2017.

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Vancouver Art Gallery #3; © Ian Poole, Canada 2017.


 

 

 

 

Making Pig Products more Personable

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

KR Darling Downs I; © Ian Poole, 1980

It is 1980 and my fledgling photographic business is grateful for any assignments thrust my way.

My close mate, the Art Director, turns up at my Studio in the old pink church, with a set of water colour renderings that he has just had drawn at the direction of the client.  The Client thought that it would be a good idea to show the source of his product in a cute and humorous way.

The source was a pig!     And the product was bacon! 

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KR Darling Downs II; © Ian Poole, 1980

That is how the KR Darling Downs Christmas Card Assignment was launched.  My reservations about the quality of the concept are more pronounced today than they were way back in another century.

After all, an advertising photographer is just a hired camera sitting around waiting for a commission.

My job was to reproduce the artwork as accurately as possible for printing of Christmas Cards and a possible brochure.  This was a time of black and white newspapers, and whilst it may have been reproduced in the Toowoomba Chronicle, that was not a concern on this occasion.  Working at the 115 Warren Street, Fortitude Valley Studio, and using my Sinar P2 (5×4″) screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-5-34-12-pmcamera, Kodak Ektachrome transparency film and a Kodak Color Control Patch – I more than had this assignment covered!

Founded in 1911 as the Darling Downs Bacon Co-operative, KR Darling Downs eventually closed in 2006 putting 350 people out of work.  The company was a large employer in the Toowoomba region.

My connection was via the advertising agency Hertz Walpole and its art director Gary Edgar.  Over later years I was to produce some food photography for brochures.  My everlasting memory was of executives from the bacon company driving down from Toowoomba bringing packages of product for use in the photography sessions, and their boredom eventually culminating with their disappearance from the studio around lunchtime to visit a hotel.  Fortunately not to be seen again that day!

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KR Darling Downs III; © Ian Poole, 1980

Agency:  Hertz Walpole, Brisbane
Art Director:  Gary Edgar
Artist:  Unknown
Client:  KR Darling Downs Pty Ltd, Toowoomba

You may also enjoy
– https://poolefoto.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/ghosts-from-christmas-past/
https://poolefoto.wordpress.com/tag/cassells-fashion-brisbane/

These transparencies (IAN POOLE does PHOTOGRAPHY file #4737) (and many others), will become part of an online searchable database at the John Oxley Historical Library within the State Library of Queensland during 2017.

 

 

Glittering Prizes

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Wakatipu Sky; © Ian Poole, 2011.

The southern hemispheric professional photography awards season has finished and we will shortly see the start of a similar set of competitions in the northern one.

One of the outcomes from these award results was the proliferation of images rated at the higher end of the scorecard that contained, or were dependent on, both graphic design and large amounts of post-production.  Noticing these trends caused some disquiet to newcomers to the awards as well as to the more experienced traditional exponents of the photographic craft.

The distance travelled between the point we have now reached and Louis Daguerre’s 1837 invention in creating a Daguerreotype or the creation of the dry plate by Richard Leach Maddox in 1871 was undoubtedly a cause of debate amongst practitioners.  While doing away with the very dangerous life threatening use of mercury with a Daguerreotype process was the primary driver, the resulting then newfound ability to create more than one copy from each exposure opened up vast possibilities.  In a sense, those birds are still nesting.

Similarly, the transition from film to digital opened up possibilities not previously seen nor imagined.  The blurring of previously clear demarcation lines between image creators (photographers) and image manipulators (for the sake of the argument lets call them graphic designers) has now become very obvious.

The awards criticism comes from two quite diverse sectors.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Whakatane Sky; © Ian Poole, 2011.

Amongst the critics are traditionalists who came from an era based on those clearly defined demarcation lines.  ‘A photograph is a photograph is a photograph’.  This is an argument along the lines of ‘a landscape photograph contains only natural environment elements, is created with a large format camera and should be in monochrome’.  That argument disallows the use of colour, the recording of the urban or man-made environment and ascribes a mystery to a particular type of camera.  A flawed argument on every level.

Another camp, mainly newcomers to the photographic industry who are quite successfully making money from a commercial product sold to clients, are seeking applause from their peers for producing a saleable professional product.  Some are upset when that their product was not deemed sufficiently creative for an award.

One of the definitions of the word award is ‘a prize or other mark of recognition given in honour of an achievement.’  Simply achieving a level of production beyond that which is normal, everyday or even professional is not sufficient for recognition in these awards.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Possum Protection; © Ian Poole, 2010.

Over time, any increase in the value and status of our professional recognition awards systems must surely rely on flexibility of outlook and much more than the reluctant acceptance of change.  The intoxicating blurring of boundaries, extending and challenging everyday norms and creating new concepts and techniques within photography are surely powerful future proofing.  Handing out loads of prizes for delivering salable commercial product simply won’t do, today or tomorrow.

Another concern relates to the frequently occurring relatively simple visual replication of what has been done before.  This is an anathema to progress.  Not to progress is, frankly, to go backwards!

New ‘personal versions’ of iconic and very easily attributable images which achieved success in previous, but still very recent awards, are cropping up in almost every category. But is demonstrating simple duplication, right down to lens choice, perspective and cropping, a road to achieving either instant recognition or long term reputation? You be the judge.

The good health and future prospects of productive and challenging awards and competitions to some degree relies on open boundaries allowing participants to create new styles of work and vary the presentation of this work to include new methods.

There are competitions that are entirely shackled, rule bound with old concepts and techniques – let them be.  The awards that encourage and promote better, newer, more innovative skills are the ones with a place in the future of photography.

So let’s reach for the rulebook less often, let’s keep debating vigorously but remember to celebrate and encourage those pushing at the outer limits of our own boundaries.

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Lindis; © Ian Poole, 2010.

Above all, let’s never compromise on professional standards for the sake of inclusiveness.

Where would that end?


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This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p146, issue 59 :: October, 2016.

 

Amateur or Professional?

‘I am a professional photographer by trade and an amateur photographer by vocation.’   –  Elliot Erwitt

Two moments over the past week or so brought this Elliot Erwitt quote into sharp focus for me.

My current major working task is to unbundle my life’s output of negatives into the local library.  In doing so I was struck by the sheer banality of some of the jobs that I have completed over the years.  Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer Then I reviewed, with some delight, the portfolio of photographs that this worthy journal published in the last edition showcasing some of my far more recent images.

The concept of professional work versus amateur output was starting to take shape in my head.

Whilst there are many descriptors to illustrate the concept of professional photography, they mostly revolve around the concept of creating images in return for money.  There are great professional photographers who are not necessarily great photographers; and there are great photographers who are not necessarily great professionals.

Good professional photographers are often expert at orchestrating a large number of different skilled operations towards the required goal of photographically illustrating a product or concept to the satisfaction of a fee-paying client.  This was the description behind some of the negative files that I was putting into the library’s database last week.  Photographs that had, in their day, totally satisfied the demands and requirements of a client who had then happily paid for that service.  Looking at the images with the 20/20 wisdom of hindsight, they will never be used again in any creative sense, despite totally satisfying the client’s brief when they were created.

On the other hand, surveying my portfolio of photographs in last month’s issue of this magazine, I was just as happy with their publication as I was when I created many of the images.  So using Erwitt’s formula, had I become an amateur photographer?  An amateur photographer is typically seen as someone who takes photos for fun and passion.  The subject, constraint or motivation of money is not a factor.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Tate Modern; © Ian Poole, London 2016.

We are straying into a discussion which parallels an age old question, that being, what is the main distinction between a chef and a cook?  The chef, being the trained and practising professional (there’s that word again), is someone who prepares food in return for monetary recompense.  On the other hand, the cook, often an amateur, usually prepares food simply for the love of working with good ingredients and enjoying the compliments of satisfied diners, usually family and friends – rather than paying patrons of their kitchen.

Since my earliest days as a working photographer (dare I say professional) I have always had a grudging admiration for the self-proclaimed amateur.  Someone who chooses to embark on a journey to create photographs without the constraints of client demands and direction, cost, budget or time commitment.  One or more of these parameters has always been attached to my professional assignments.  The wedding that is being held on a pre-determined date; the portrait that is to be given as a birthday present; the ship that will enter harbour with the next high tide; the visit by the Governor to open the next sitting of parliament – these definite and precise directions can not be ignored by a professional photographer.  Whereas an amateur may choose to attend and document, or not attend at all, at their whim.

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© Elliott Erwitt

Elliot Erwitt commented that he did not set out to photograph a book of dog photographs – it just so happened that one day he had finally created such a volume of images that Phaidon offered to publish his book DogDogs.  Calling Erwitt an amateur would be misinterpreting, maybe even misrepresenting, a lengthy career as an image maker.  In an interview with Erwitt when he was last in Australia he recalled that his ‘hobby’ of photographing dogs had become a job – suggesting that his keen canine interest was interfering with his ‘real’ job.

That line, the one separating amateur from professional is tenuous at best, and poorly defined most of the time. Sometimes it’s pretty hard to even see where the line is.

Personally, I am more than happy to continue to blur the already soft line between my trade and my vocation. It’s a movable barrier, so why not?


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This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p146, issue 58 :: September, 2016.

 

All our own work

An earnest debate amongst Australian professional photographers is currently ensuing online regarding the legitimacy of using second and third party professionals to prepare entries for photography awards.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Story Bridge + Bird; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1995.

In this instance specifically, whether professional retouchers should be able to work on an awards entry and whether the resulting modified photograph still remains within the original photographer’s integrity of ownership.

The debate resonates on many levels.

Firstly, the Australian professional institute has encouraged its members to enter the awards with a view to improving professional standards across the broad range of the industry.  Comparing current entries with those of 30+ years ago, this has been achieved well beyond the imagination of the two or three Australian photography industry founding fathers’ fondest thoughts, wishes or hopes.

Secondly, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of first time professional photographers practising their craft without any degree of formal training.

And thirdly, many of these new industry members are trying their hand at entering professional awards for the first time using photographic images that were commercially sound enough for sale to clients – but then fail to attract high assessments from the panel of judges.  The antipodean professional awards of New Zealand and Australia present some of the highest standards in photography, as evidenced by the success of some of their participants on a world stage, so where does the disconnect occur, and why?

That third point is the basis on which many photographers are now questioning their own poor results and looking for answers in places other than deep introspection. Some are rooting suspicion from their discovery that some entered photographs have received post-production treatment that might not all have been the work of the entrant.  A lack of formal training in photography means that some fundamental knowledge of the history of the art is absent, missing in action, from their perspective.  This colours their judgment, hiding the real issue.

Right from the earliest days of photography there was a dependence on skilled third party assistance for the photographer to be able to produce saleable portrait images.  From the late 19th century through the early 20th century the production methods were similar, albeit the materials used varied.  The photographer (usually a male) exposed sensitised material and worked with the clients in The Gallery and behind the scenes vast numbers of staff (mostly female) worked on the production of the finished product.  Some photos of these areas in very large studios indicate an almost Dickensian workhouse nature. In a very real sense however, both sides of the production process were equally harrowing as work places.

The widespread use of colour materials in the mid-twentieth century brought about a dramatic change to the business model.  A host of colour processing laboratories created a revolution where photographers concentrated on finding clients and taking photographs while relying on their finished print production being entirely done by laboratories.  The resulting images were really only packaged back at the studio for delivery to clients.

This reliance on laboratories by domestic photographers was echoed in the commercial world.  The difference being, that instead of processing negatives these laboratories worked with transparency film and offered additional skills for sale.  Compositing two or more transparencies into one, adding text to a transparency, blending several images to create one finished result – something that any half trained photography student could do today in minutes with Photoshop – had to be sent to an expert or experts (often in another city) for completion.

My personal experience of having seen most of the Australian professional awards judged was that this manner of production was always perfectly acceptable.  Whilst the viewer often marvelled at the technical skill required to achieve some of the effects, nevertheless it was the brilliance of the concept, or the execution of the original exposure, that was being assessed and attributed to the entrant.  Today, the common practice of having one’s award entries printed and finished by a master printer is not only accepted, but tacitly encouraged. Judges don’t expect entrants to be master printers, so why should they expect the same photographers to be master retouchers?

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Tokyo Opera House; © Ian Poole, 2012.

The disappointment some new entrants to the awards system face is the discovery that their ‘successful’ commercial output does not rate highly in a peer review competitive situation.  Money from clients (albeit the most important yardstick for a commercial enterprise) while essential, is also on a par with lavish praise from one’s own mother.  The success of the trans-Tasman competitions is that the quality bar has been raised to a very high level.  Something to be applauded, not dragged down to a lesser level by adding the criterion that if the image was adequate enough to sell, it is therefore good enough to be applauded and awarded by a jury of our peers.

Content, intent, story-telling, description, emotion, memory, originality, technique and many other signifiers are the harbingers of an award winning photograph.  Judges tend to wait and hope, looking for photographs that bring a special message and trusting that they will be able to recognise these images when revealed in the dance of assessment in those quiet rooms.

Long may that expectation reign.


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This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p148, issue 57 :: August, 2016.

Business Cards – I have had a few.

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Business Card #1; c1966

My very first business card was also a photography card.  The agonising that went into such a simple small text document was amazing.

I had created the strangest collection of partners to combine into a photographic business.  My good mate Alan Larsen was also an accountant – that seemed to make sense.   Another friend was a pianist and vocalist and there seemed to be symbolic relationship between those skills and wedding photography.  Something to be exploited we thought.  The connection with Alan was also based on the fact that he possessed a darkroom – and that was where the wedding photos were going to be processed.  In fact in was in that darkroom on Sunday  17 December 1967 that we heard of the disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.  Yet another useful fact!

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Business Card #2; c.1969

More important than a gold embossed dairy maid, was the fact that my next business card came equipped with a brand new Ford Falcon Station Wagon – luxury beyond anything on my radar; and my first new car.

This card (and attached job) proved that my photography career was still in a transistory state.  It did lead the way to my first food photography jobs and other assignments.

The next card was a pivotal moment in my photographic career.

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Business Card #3; c.1974

I had finally made photography my primary source of income.  Not in a solo business but with a partner.  Greg had worked in an advertising photography studio and I had a bookkeeping background with candid and wedding photography skills – what a combination that was!  We were two steps ahead of being backyarders.  The colour of the card matched the corporate colours, the shade of the Mazda 1500 and the go-faster stripe painted down the wall of the foyer of our first hand built studio and darkroom.

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Brisbane Card #4; February 1976

Card #4 was produced just in time for Friday 13 February 1976 – the first day of business for IAN POOLE does PHOTOGRAPHY.   It was the first day of my striking out solo.  Albeit sharing a large former Lutheran church with David McCarthy OAM Hon. LM, Hon. FAIPP, APP.L AAIPP. former Australian President of the AIPP.

By this time I had been a member of the IAP (the precursor of the AIPP) since the previous year.  It also showed the phone number that I was to use (in slightly various altered iterations) until 2014.

Colour was of importance, as was a different shape (square to make it stand out); and the double denim of the clothing was the latest in denim safari suits!  There was NO trendier photographer in all of Brisbane!

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Business Card #5; c. 1980

Mind you I was to use a Hasselblad camera for most of my working career.

Business Card #5 was starting to show a little more sophistication in graphic design.  The denim remained but the typography was more restrained (and I was still a member of the Institute).

The next major move came with the transfer of the Studio to the Brisbane inner city suburb of Red Hill.  This was truly a one man business conducted from my home and enabled me to do some of those family things like taking a daughter to and from her local school. Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer Card #6 was a utilitarian object with the addition of a facsimile machine to the Studio’s assets.  Smaller space but more facility.  Upper Clifton Terrace gave me the impetus to move from being a lecturer at the College of Art, Griffith University, to being a post-graduate student at the same institution.  This opportunity opened all manner of photographic avenues to me with exhibitions being held and curated, and artist’s residencies in places like Japan (courtesy of the Australia Council for the Arts).

Business Card #7 was the result of a commercial graphic art studio and the resources of the Government of the Great State of Queensland.

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Business Card #7; 1994

No mention was made of my membership of the now named Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), but I was able to flaunt my newly gained post-graduate status from Griffith University.

Joining the Queensland Government Photographic Unit gave me an opportunity to travel the state photographing all manner of projects and people.  Including an awful lot of “grip and grins” – hand shakes and ribbon cuttings!

Card #8 was an opportunity to indulge some of the finer things in photography.  Curate exhibitions at Gallery Frenzy, write articles for f11::for PHOTOGRAPHERS AND AFICIONADOS and spend a little time taking some portraits of special people.

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Business Card #8; 2012

I now no longer had a formal Studio, but I did have the freedom to chose where and when photographs could be created.

Documenting a career via one’s business cards is an interesting exercise in graphics, desires, dynamics and reactions to what is happening in and around your life.

My career has been as varied as the cards would indicate!


 

August 2016 was a great month

For different but related reasons August 2016 was a great month for me.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

In Good Company

Firstly I had a comprehensive portfolio of my photographs published in the online magazine f11::for PHOTOGRAPHERS AND AFICIONADOS.

Secondly I gained my Master of Photography (M.Photog) status with the (AIPP)

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

In Equally Good Company.

The first achievement was the result of over nine months of submission and collaboration with the f11 Publisher and Creative Director, Tim Steele.

With some gentle (and often times not so subtle) prodding, Tim was able to move me away from a grab-bag of retrospective images culled from a lifetime of photography into displaying a targeted and curated array of complimentary shots.  For this I will be eternally grateful.  Whilst I have a fair record in curating photographic shows for other people this was proof positive that the artist should rely on the input of a dispassionate party in such an exercise.

As a long time exponent of the black and white process and genre, it was an eyeopener to me that not a single monochrome image was included.

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Istanbul Dolls; © Ian Poole, 2015

The wonder of colour was never more evident than in this portfolio.

Issue 57 commencing at page 98 gave a comprehensive survey of my more contemporary photographs.  The supporting essay alluded to a voyeuristic photographic eye – a statement that I don’t shy away from, albeit not in the wide angle, camera in the face documentary style that is employed by some practitioners of so-called street photography.  I am no Vivian Maier!

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Observations; © Ian Poole, 2015.

What this project did do for me was to isolate a not strongly held view that I was attracted to people and place.  Having been fortunate to travel a few times over the past few years it was obvious that I would document those moments.  But it was the urban landscape (with its attendant population) that attracted my lens more than “the landscape”.  It took an analysis of various submissions for Tim to make this point so strongly – a fact with which I am pleased.

The second part of the bookending of the month of August was my gaining my M.Photog.  The road to this achievement has been paved with many challenges (I Earned a 73 ……. and a few other scores) and (Failure) and (The 2015 APPAs).  In this 40th year of the APPAs (Australian Professional Photography Award), it was a nice co-incidence for me.

I had attended the “test run” of the APPAs 41 years ago at the HYPO Convention at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, and entered the second APPA and earned a Silver Merit.  Having decided early in my membership of the AIPP that I was a better Judge than an Entrant I chose for a long period to restrict my involvement to the judging table – UNTIL!   Some six years ago a few of my Institute “Friends” took me aside at an Awards Dinner and monstered me.  “Put Up or Shut Up” was the demand.  Thank you Mike Langford APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP,  Jackie Ranken, Peter Eastway APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP FNZIPP Hon. FAIPP Hon. FNZIPP, Ian van der Wolde APP.L M.Photog III Hon. FAIPP, Andrew Campbell APP.L GM.Photog and David Oliver AAP.L GM.Photog.  So, with the exception of the disastrous 2014 Year of the Bronzes, I steadily worked my way through gaining my Associateship and then Masters.

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Birmingham Gallery Cafe; © Ian Poole, 2016.

This year’s Award images also contributed to my gaining a Master of Photography within the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Iris Award system.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Tallin, Estonia; © Ian Poole, 2016.

Huge thanks need to go to Living Image Print and Andrew Merefield (and Darren Jew who was away swimming with whales) for the care and professionalism given to putting these pixels onto paper.  A skilled job for a pair of skilled professionals.

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Opposite The Ritz; © Ian Poole, 2016.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Edinburgh; © Ian Poole, 2016.

……and a final comment must be made to my talented mentor Adam Finch M.Photog.  Adam has continually challenged, critiqued and encouraged my photographic output.  No good photographer can exist without a mentor (or an Editor).  Thanks.