Tuesday, 30 December 2014

In with the old!

'In with the old' might be a strange theme for the end of the old year and beginning of the new but it just sprang into my mind as I have been reviewing and re-printing work of mine from the 1960's and '70's. 
Splott, Cardiff, 1970
The passage of time possibly allows for a more objective re-assessment of work made many years ago. Images that were passed over then and never printed, now take on a new life when viewed anew. A number of reasons may be pointed to here. Time has provided a considerable distance from the actual picture making to the reviewing of the work and editing. At the time of making photographs it is certainly true that particular environments, scenarios and individuals that pass before your camera, assume an importance and a priority in your work that can take precedence over other factors. It may be that you are working around a series, theme or location and other images made at that time are not given serious consideration as a consequence. 

Mill Lane Market, Cardiff, 1970
Personal and wider photographic styles and taste change over the years too. Images that may not have been considered in the past on stylistic grounds now appear to fit in with more current trends and ideas of image content and construction. 

The passage of time, in the examples here for instance of some forty five years, also adds interest to some of the images due to physical and social changes in the various environments featured in the photographs. Towns and cities change, as do social habits, fashion, working practices etc. Looking back on some of these older images now is a bit like looking back on another age. It is I suppose but when you lived through it and it was your everyday environment it does not seem as alien as it probably does to a younger audience. What we have then is this combination of nostalgia, history and a re-contextualising of the images from their original intent. 
Splott, Cardiff, 1970

We sometimes forget, probably due to other concerns in making the work at the time that photography, in its most basic form is a fantastic recording medium. Images made for one purpose or context, after years have passed now take on another life and significance. 

The Hayes, Cardiff, 1971
I have family snaps taken by my Father in the late 1940's and early 50's and the main interest in these now is not necessarily the family members featured but the changes in fashion and the environment that appear in the background. So it is, in some respects with the older images of mine I am reviewing now. I may notice that a particular location no longer exists so the photograph now takes on a new life as an historical document. 

Some images of course were just overlooked at the time. I find one now and again and wonder why I didn't notice it at the time and mark it up or print it. I have all my original contact sheets from those years and it is interesting to see what I marked up for printing at the time and what was disregarded or overlooked. 
Queen Street, Cardiff, 1971

Most of what I am reviewing and printing now were never taken for 'commercial' use or on assignment but was all 'personal' work. Images that just interested me at the time, just this 'recording' of the environment I found myself in during that period of my life. 

It makes you think of course about how a even later generation might look at these images in years to come, plus the ones I am making now. I will never know of course so have to content myself to enjoying revisiting my older work and discovering the odd little gem that has been hiding in my filing cabinets all these years.