Glittering Prizes

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Portfolio Published in f11

It was with some pleasure when I read the current issue of f11 :: for photographers and aficionados.    With a substantial number of contemporary photographs to view it was a joy to see them presented with such care by Creative Director Tim Steele.

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The process of arriving at this point was both interesting and laborious.  My initial idea of submitting a grab bag of images from a checkered commercial career was ruthlessly rejected  (fortunately) by the editorial board.   I was forced to regroup and reassess the work to be presented and be also constrained by the publishing needs of a journal that is produced eleven times a year.

I am in good company with Stephen Robinson’s delightful memories of vintage New Zealand architecture, the NZIPP Iris Award winners and of course the essay by Tony Bridge and equipment review by Gary Baildon.   I am almost embarrassed to mention a column by yours truly amping up the debate about whether photography award entries should (or should not) be the sole work of the entrant.

www.f11magazine.com
f11 Magazine has a social media presence on Twitter: @f11magazine; and
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……and one of the photos that didn’t make the cut –

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New Otani; © Ian Poole, 2015.

The Way to Art is through Craft

The way to art is through craft; not around craft – Ansel Adams

I was reminded of this cryptic comment whilst attending the recent Iris Awards held in Wellington New Zealand by the NZ Institute of Professional Photography.

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Piper and Posers; © Ian Poole, 2016 (IRIS Silver Award)

With over 1,200 photographs judged in various categories over three days by local and overseas photographers, this was an event of resounding success.  Some great images were viewed, discussed and awarded.  With this access to vast riches of both imagery and photographic knowledge, all gathered together in a couple of small rooms, it was an opportunity to absorb creativity beyond compare.

It was not the fact that there was an audience – it was the composition of that audience that surprised me.

The judging of the wedding and portrait categories were unsurprisingly a case of a full house at every session.  Hardly to be marveled at when the photographic industry is largely constructed on the business of domestic image making.  My surprise was that these people disappeared from the rooms when other apparently unrelated categories were being considered.

This is the age where few domestic photographers maintain a formal studio, preferring to work from a home environment, with resulting wedding and portrait images being taken in informal outdoor surroundings.  For example the family group in a park setting, or the wedding couple being dwarfed by a large factory wall.   These good uses of the natural and urban landscape are part and parcel of the 21st century portrait or wedding photographic experience.

So, I wondered, where were all the wedding and portrait photographers when the Landscape Category was being judged?

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Hong Kong; © Ian Poole, 2016 (IRIS Silver Award)

Where did they go? There were many entrants in the room but nowhere near the number of practitioners in evidence when the domestic genres were being assessed.  Many a time I have observed the plaintive cries of wedding photographers on social media agonising over an upcoming wet weekend and seeking fresh ideas and secret locations to use while documenting their brides and grooms.  It occurred to me,  wouldn’t observing the locations chosen by landscape workers be potentially useful for placing your bridal couples within their context?  Or a factory, or some city hall steps, or a strange dark and moody alleyway?  These are all locations where I have seen portraits produced for bridal couples working under a photographer’s direction.

A further cause for concern for me was the surprising comment by some audience members during the judging of the Documentary Category that men were assessing birth photographs!  This ironic observation would have had the potential for humour in times other than the politically correct ones we live in today, but the strength of such comments was a little daunting.  The category quite reasonably embraces the idea of the camera as a means of recording (documenting) the human endeavour.

A broad ethos at best.

The criticism was two pronged.  Firstly that male judges had no understanding of the birth process and that they were unaware of the degree of difficulty involved in this area of photography.  This seemed a somewhat sexist approach.

However, putting that aside, my first response would be that the judges (male and female) were briefed to find the best photographs showing a documentation of the human condition.  Note the requirement to arrive at a winning photograph.  All the judges came from different areas of the industry but carried with them skills and abilities to assess and arrive at a conclusion.  Some were skilled practitioners in documentary photography, and all possessed that necessary ability to assess, analyse and score a photograph within the constraints of a well-documented and rigorously maintained process.

The degree of difficulty argument is not new in the awards system.

The wedding photographer working in the pouring rain, the newborn photographer with the wailing baby, the architectural photographer without a cloud in the sky, the commercial photographer with a rubbish skip in front of a building at 5am, the medical photographer with surgeons and anaesthetists in front of their view –  these and many other obstacles are part and parcel of a professional photographer’s daily life.  To imagine that judges are unaware or unable to acknowledge these challenges is misguided and a sad slight on the skills and experience of the judges who worked tirelessly to ensure that high standards ensued.

Fortunately with some long hours, some diligent consideration, some robust discussion and eventual collegiate agreement, the 2016 NZIPP Iris Awards were a resounding success – congratulations to the Institute and their many workers on a job well done.

Ian-Poole-Brisbane-Photographer

Nagano; © Ian Poole, 2016 (IRIS Silver Award)


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This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p146, issue 56 :: July, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Photographic Review of 2015

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Paris Farewell View; © Ian Poole, 2015

Photographically speaking 2015 has been a reasonable year for me.  Whilst this blog is not about illustrating the best photographs from the rapidly finishing 2015, it is more about what those photographs say about my travels, my activities and as memory joggers.

Paris Farewell View earned me a Silver Award at the AIPP Photography Awards.  By showing a final look back into the doorway of the apartment Louise and I had used in my first visit back to Paris in almost 40 years, I was getting a little bit nostalgic as we left to fly to Turkey.  It is not recommended that you enter a self-portrait in the APPA competition, but I felt that the portrait was less than the interesting spin created by the reflected view.

Paris was the source of another piece of documentary photography that seems much easier to take in that city.

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Orion; © Ian Poole, Paris, 2015

Orion occurred when I followed that great photographic dictum which tells you to always turn 180 degrees in case the “real” photograph is happening directly behind you.  It was.

This was the year that I discovered that great genre of travel photographers – the shot of the platform on the other side of tracks.  It has been around for a long time, but not used by me.  Traveling regularly on the Paris Metro gave me plenty of time to explore the genre.  As I did in Japan later in the year.

I am not one of the great documentary photographers – in other words I cannot thrust my 35mm lens directly into the faces of passers-by.  Using the Fuji XT-1’s adjustable viewing screen I was able to appear as if I was disinterested in the scene in front of me.  It did remind me of all those the years using twin lensed cameras like the Rolleicord and Mamiya C3.

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Arts et Metiers; © Ian Poole, 2015, Paris

Arts et Metiers was our local Metro station and the amazing wheels and cogs dropping out of the ceiling should have been enough to attract me; as was the curved wall/roof which was coated in a bronze metal.  A colour shot obviously, but I felt driven to reproduce it in black and white.  Rightly or wrongly.

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Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut; © Ian Poole, Ronchamp, 2015

A sign pointing to the amazing Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, constructed by the famous Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier at Ronchamp, caught my eye whilst cruising the auto-route to Beaune.  This mostly concrete building is constructed on the site of a previous chapel that was bombed during WWII.  Considered to be one of le Corbusier’s more striking buildings, constructed late in his career, it has been photographed countless times in its history.  I could not resist adding my interpretation to that list.  I have included Louise by way of size illustration.

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Istanbul Storm; © Ian Poole, 2015

Not only did Istanbul Storm earn me a Silver Award at the 2015 APPAs, but the AIPP has used the photograph as one of the illustrations promoting the Hair of the Dog Convention in Brisbane in February.

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Some Antiques; © Ian Poole, Beaune, 2015

Another photographic aspect that I experimented with was using reflections to further construct an image.  Some Antiques is one of those.

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Wilding Pines; © Ian Poole, New Zealand, 2015

 

I got off to a good start in 2015 with Wilding Pines being shot on 3 January outside of Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand.  Being shown around by good friends Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken, this late afternoon shot has a gentleness about it.

There must be something linking my friendship with Mike and Jackie to good photography by me.  My final shot in this eclectic review of photographs that I took in 2015 is Listening to the Jazz.  It was taken in their company in Tokyo late in 2015.  Mixing with fellow photographers to create images is, of course, wonderful.  More important though is sharing good food, drink, experiences and naturally, good jazz.  This is what was happening in this photograph.

 

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Listening to the Jazz; © Ian Poole, Tokyo, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In memoriam

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Tony Whincup; © Mike Langford, New Zealand, 2014.

A photographic friend of mine died recently.  It was unexpected in a way that these things sometimes can be.  He lived in another country and whilst I desperately wanted to attend his funeral, it was not possible.

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A Teacher Teaching; © Inspire Photography, 2014.

What did happen was a series of photographs started to appear in that thing called social media.  Firstly, a shot of him working amongst photographers taken last year.  It was what he did best, imparting knowledge to others, and there he was doing it in a well-recorded photograph.

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Brett Whincup and His Father’s Portrait; © Mike Langford, 2015.

Then I heard that a magnificent portrait of him was on display at the funeral, taken by another talented mutual friend.  This was a portrait that he had not seen, but now we all have because of its importance on that day.  Her photographic portrait created discussion amongst his friends, the mourners.  Almost immediately, social media started to fill with images taken at the ceremony.  Photographs that took me to a place I could not attend, to recognise that he was indeed amongst friends at the end.  All of his friends that I recognised were photographic acquaintances shared, because I did not know his immediate family. Amongst the photographic tributes was a portfolio of shots taken on the day by one of his close friends who had earlier delivered a touching eulogy.  But the portfolio of black and white photographs spoke in emotional words that I fully understood despite my physical absence.

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Rhiarn Phillips singing Amazing Grace; © Mike Langford, 2015.

There was a poignant photograph of a young female mourner kneeling beside the coffin whilst singing Amazing Grace.  I was affected as if I had been there in person.

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A Final Solo; © Mike Langford, 2015

There was the photograph of a musician friend playing a last solo. There were the young girls from the endangered Pacific island that he had championed for so long doing a graceful dance in front of the mourners.  He had published such photographs in books as part of his academic research, and at the end it was part of his final story. And finally we see that it was a grey, wet, cloudy day.  A day fit for a funeral.  We know these things because a photographer shared his monochromatic documentation of an event I could not attend.

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A Day Fit for a Funeral; © Mike Langford, 2015

The story is this, photographs can bring tears to our eyes, can convey a message, explain an event or just quietly tell it precisely how it was.  Whilst some of what I write about today is a documentation of events, there is also another thought at play here.  Are we as photographers doing enough to document and record portraits of those who are important to us? We are photographers – it is what we do best, and surely the onus is upon us to go out and take significant photographs of people important to us and to our profession?  It can be part of our commercial practice or it can be part of what we do to repay our own community, and to society as a whole, with that special skill that we possess. Let’s pay it forward, knowing that one day these portraits will be important, valued, treasured. Who are you photographing tomorrow, and why?

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Tony Portrait; © Jackie Ranken, Queenstown NZ, 2014

This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOSp144, issue 43, May 2015.

Print Swap at Hair of the Dog

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Hilary and Prints; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 2015.

One of the interesting side events at the recently completed Hair of the Dog Convention held by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography in Brisbane was a print swap between participants.

I have known Hilary Wardhaugh for many years through our shared membership of the AIPP and being fellow Judges at the Institute’s award system.

In between dancing the Tango, photographing Federal Members of Parliament and documenting weddings, Hilary runs a successful Canberra based business.

It was nice to add this delightful seascape to my gallery of photographs by photographers – Australian and international.

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Beach Game; © Hilary Wardhaugh, 2015

Hilary tells me that it was taken over the Christmas break with an out of date roll of Kodak film.  Ignoring the technical details I am taken by the iconic nature of recording what is essentially a summer activity in this part of the world.  The placement of small figures at the bottom of frame and the unrelenting harshness of the Australian summer sun is recorded with great accuracy.

In return, Hilary received my Central Otago Hut photograph taken in 2013.  This is a genuine favourite of mine and credit must be given to those generous New Zealand photographers, Gilbert van Reenen, Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken who orchestrated the journey to this ancient gold mining region in the South Island of NZ.

The concept of swapping prints amongst fellow photographers is one that I support and have practicised for over twenty-five years.  Not only does it foster a sense of camaraderie, but it also enhances my display wall!

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Central Otago Hut; © Ian Poole, 2013

 

Details about previous Print Swaps include – https://poolefoto.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/print-swap/ and https://poolefoto.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/results-of-the-print-swap/

 

 

 

 

New Books in the Library

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Author’s Hand; © Ian Poole, Christchurch, 2015.

Whilst my photographic library is now consisting of more books containing words about photographs, than photographs themselves; it is with some excitement that I note two new additions made over the past couple of days.

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Doc Ross Signs his Book; © Ian Poole, Christchurch, 2015.

On my final night of a short visit to New Zealand Louise and I were invited to dine at the home of local wedding/portrait photographers Johannes van Kan and Jo Grams.  Also sharing a delicious meal were photographer Doc Ross and his wife Liz.  Whilst the purpose of the evening was convivial company, animated discussion about photography and sharing some great wines (New Zealand, American and Spanish), my selfish reason for attending was to take delivery of edition #1 of Ross’ latest book – Fragments of Other Peoples Lives.

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Johannes van Kan; © Doc Ross, Christchurch, 2015

Documenting a two month stay in London last year, this set of photographs illustrates the people inhabiting the streets that Ross observed.  Working in a style that is reminiscent of Garry Winogrand, these self-printed, self-published monochrome photographs present an unobtrusive observation of what was happening around him.  There is no confrontation from his subjects and it is almost as though Ross is invisible – no mean feat in this much more alert and aware twenty-first century.

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Yours Truly (+ Wine); © Doc Ross, Christchurch, 2015.

Whilst still coming to grips with my new camera (see New Landscape, New Camera, Same Old Eyes), it was an opportunity to work the 56mm f1.2 lens doing what it was designed for – portraits.  All the photographers got a chance to play.

I mentioned two books to add to the Library.  The purpose of my New Zealand visit was to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Queenstown Centre of Creative Photography.  It was here that I was offered a new copy of Gregory Heisler’s epic volume 50 Portraits.  This volume is to contemporary portrait photography what One Mind’s Eye by Arnold Newman was to mid Twentieth Century portrait photography.  Newman had been my mentor in my early photographic years and after seeing Heisler speak in Brisbane many years ago and again in New Zealand last year, he had become my current portrait mentor.

A great night, with superb food and wine and superlative company.

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Doc Ross, Christchurch Photographer; © Ian Poole, 2015.

 

New Landscape, New Camera – Same Old Eyes.

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Palmerston Sunrise; © Ian Poole, 2014.

An invitation to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the founding of Queenstown Centre of Creative Photography, and a mate’s birthday is all I need to head off to South Island New Zealand.  QCCP is the home of some of New Zealand’s best photography workshops and run by the talented duo of Jackie Ranken and Mike Langford.

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Maniototo Landscape #1; © Ian Poole, 2014

Getting to Queenstown always requires some creative thought over the summer months, and this time a driving trip from Christchurch was in order.  Some driving instructions from Ranfurly based photographer/educator Tony Bridge put me through some new territory offering tempting landscape opportunities.  Thanks Tony.

Additionally I had just taken delivery of a new camera.  Changing cameras AND brands is no small endeavour.  Taking a two week old new camera on a road trip is a bit daunting.  My new Fuji XT-1, and its 56mm lens and I are now going through that early dating process of learning to know what each of us can do.  The photographs illustrating this blog were taken using the built in monochrome conversion and exported as J-pegs.  Some what different from my usual post production technique.  There is a little bit of Nik production as well, but not a lot.

More of the learning curve to come, but now it is time to prepare for Party Time and see in another New Year.  Best Wishes for a fabulous 2015.

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Maniototo Landscape #2; © Ian Poole, 2014.

 

 

A Review

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Soho Moment; © Ian Poole, Brisbane 2014.

A simple request to a photographer friend has led to a recent photograph of mine being given an incisive review; accompanied by a passionate essay on documentary photography.  Tony Bridge is a Kiwi, based in the South Island of New Zealand.

Tony has offered two of his photographs for me to analyse.  This is a rare treat.

Brisbane #2; © Tony Bridge

Brisbane #2; © Tony Bridge, New Zealand.

Garry Winogrand on 5th Avenue; Jonathan Brand, 1967

Garry Winogrand on 5th Avenue; © Jonathan Brand, 1967

By my own admission, I am not an experienced street or documentary photographer and instead of the expected landscape shot to critique, Bridge has supplied two documentary photographs.  Additionally, they are not taken in the verdant rolling hills of Central Otago, but have been shot in the centre of my home town, Brisbane!

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Los Angeles International Airport; © Garry Winogrand, 1964

In the rare photograph showing the great documentary photographer Garry Winogrand taken by Jonathan Brand, there is a hint of the style that is replicated in Bridge’s photograph.  With Winogrand still in the centre of the frame and surrounded by swinging arms and disembodied pedestrians, Bridge has a still billboard surrounded by disembodied pedestrians and a swinging arm.  It is Bridge’s use of colour that brings a slightly more contemporary feel to the photograph as opposed to the monochrome of Winogrand and Brand.  Whilst Winogrand does not always stay as the dispassionate observer (as he does in Los Angeles Airport, 1964), on this occasion Bridge also takes the distanced observer role.

It was Bridge’s second photograph that attracted me.

Firstly I recognised an iconic corner within the Brisbane city mall, and it was in monochrome.

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Brisbane #1; © Tony Bridge, New Zealand

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© Garry Winogrand.

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John F. Kennedy Space Center; Garry Winogrand.

Whilst the dominant figure has just caught the probing eye of  Bridge’s camera, it is the striding gait of the legs of the other participants in this city tableau that works for me.  There is a dynamic tension that runs through each and every set of legs recorded in the photograph.  They are all walking with a purpose and the photographer is an irrelevance in his recording of the scene.  Winogrand almost achieves the same in this illustration where, despite the piercing glare of the beggar and the disinterested nonchalance of the returned serviceman, the rest of the participants in this tableau are preoccupied with their own business.

In John F. Kennedy Space Center, Winogrand has captured that same dynamic tension of all the eyes focused towards the launch and the solitary figure facing in the opposite direction with strongly splayed legs mimicking the man to her right.  Winogrand’s moment is almost decisive!

I must defer to Tony Bridge in his ability to document the human condition out on the street.  It takes a rare skill to engage and confront strangers in the public domain.   Probabily even more so in these politically correct times.

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From the Aotearoa Series; © Tony Bridge.

Mind you this was what I was expecting when we agreed to this little cross review challenge –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait Reflections in Cuba

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Che Guevara and Fidel Castro; © Alberto Korda, 1961.

Recently as I was sitting contemplating the steamy atmosphere that is Latin American Cuba, I was struck by the visual importance of two of their cherished and beloved heroes,  Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

Photographs of both men litter the environment relentlessly to reinforce popular support for what is, in essence, a dictatorship.  This monograph will not canvas the back story of the loss of copyright for the poor photographer of the iconic Guevara image that prompted my reflection, but therein lies a story for another day.

With the recent loss of my own Mother I was further struck by the lack of a visual library of images of, or including, her.  In my defence, she was a difficult subject, coming from that practical depression generation who regarded photography as something to be undertaken only within the social confines of an ‘important’ occasion.  A wedding, a christening, a significant birthday – something requiring dressing up and presenting one’s self in best light was the only time suitable for photography.  My dear departed Mum expressed her commonly held opinion for over thirty years that I was only indulging myself with a photographic hobby.

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Poole @ Ayres Rock; © Christian Vogt, c1988.

Over my photographic lifetime I have been fortunate to have been the subject of many portraits by some of the world’s better photographers.

On occasions I sought the image, at other times it was offered; and I responded enthusiastically.   I saw the process as part of my visual learning curve to discover how different artists perceived my less than attractive profile and to observe the techniques they used to record that difficult subject.

Sometimes passionately discussing the photographic process, at other times just sitting back and watching technique, style or lighting – it was all part of that process of learning.

But a more important procedure was taking place.  On a micro level one photographic practitioner was being documented through his career – sometimes holding a camera – at other times just the person.

As practitioners within a visual industry we are often guilty of failing to record our own with the diligence that we should.

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Ian Poole; © Heide Smith, Brisbane, 1985.

There have been exceptions, including the efforts of Australia’s Peter Adams and Heide Smith.  Adam’s monumental documentation of world photographers has received some, but not enough exposure.  Smith has selectively recorded many key players in the Australian photography industry.

The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography has finalised a comprehensive documentation of surviving members of that country’s armed forces from World War II.  Perhaps they should apply some of the same diligence, patience and care to documenting their own contemporaries as image makers?

Given that these great projects have taken place, I am arguing that it should also be taking place at a grass roots level.  As photographic practitioners we are all important.  Only history will tell if we are to be elevated to the stratospheric level of Che Guevara…

Maybe it is a case of documenting our opposition in small towns or communities; recording members of our photographic club; creating portraits of our institute’s office bearers; making powerful images of our competition winners; or recording those who practice in the same style or genre as ourself.  The reason for taking the photograph is unimportant, beyond the simple, very human value of one photographer recording another.

The important part of this process is what happens after the immediate usage.  Local or regional museums are constantly seeking portraits of inhabitants; most state, provincial or national galleries collect portraits and as photographers we should be promoting photography as a portrait medium on an artistic par with paintings or sculpture.

The challenge is ours, first to execute against and then to promote as a body of work to the art community.

As I sit in the hectic, chaotic, humid environment that is Cuba, bombarded on one side by World Cup images and commentary, and under the charismatic gaze of Che himself, I am moved to mourn the paucity of passion in our personal image creation.

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Cuban Man, Trinadad; © Ian Poole, 2014.

This article first appeared in f11 – issue 35, August 2014.