Welcome to Peter's Deep Dive #001, blog launch issue 12.11.21
I named this long read: ‘Peter's Deep Dive’. But as with all aspirations the reality is shaping up to be more like ‘Peter's Tentative Meanderings’.
Yes I have lost count of the versions I have written and discarded. I am not a writer but I am learning. But needs must, no more drafts, it is time to publish!
First let me pay homage to the reason we are together: the humble photograph.
‘The photograph is truth. The Cinema is truth 24 frames a second' Jean Luc Goddard
This is why I was always more interested in the single image than film.
Photography is the one medium, which captures the passing of time. Our emotional, rational, irrational investment in the shapes and tones we see on paper or screen, which we recognise as the 'photograph', is what we empower to entertain us, make us laugh and cry, help us to reflect on and remember cherished friends, relatives, colleagues and moments. We project into the 'photograph' the power to reconnect with distant his/her-stories, to capture our differing worlds and explore our common human condition.
The humble photograph will be the subject of all that follows in these blogs.
So here we go ... I have this plan! ... and it goes like this ...
Reconnecting with my craft
Just months before COVID struck I started my first move to reconnect with the context of my craft as a photographer, both historical and contemporary. This resulted in a lecture on the use of optics in early Dutch painting linked to a history of architectural photography: Vermeer to Here: Architectural Photography a History. To date this has been delivered to 11 architectural practices and one college, continuing during COVID as Zoom webinars.
Significantly, I found that I really enjoyed the months of research for these lectures. This felt new. This was genuinely exciting. I’ve been a professional photographer for many years and an energy appeared that reminded me of my time at college. My dissertation and degree show all over again. It not only wetted my appetite for the academic side of my craft, but also triggered ideas for personal projects. A reminder of those wonderful Philosophy of Art and Language lectures, that sent my mind racing with ideas, delivered by the late much missed Alan Barnes.
My first college project (pre Photoshop)
I have never been the driven compulsive type of photographer forever accompanied by a camera, constantly indexing the world as I pass through. Or compelled to take an image everyday. That is in no way a critique of those who work in this way, dear photographer friends you know who you are. It is just not me. The absence of presence of being a ‘compulsive photographer’ has been the source of my constant self doubt as I journeyed through my professional life as a commission based producer. Our roads through life are all paved with insecurities and I am no exception. The need to survive and always responding to external well defined briefs has been my modus operandi and it worked and works well.
Through the Vermeer to Here lecture I became acutely aware that I needed to create an alternative context for personal work, worthy of display/contemplation.
The question I faced was how to sustain this level of activity. I knew I had to work hard at creating the right new context to support my personal exploration of photography, both practical and theoretical.
Context, Context, Context ....
Context is everything
I have learned over the years that I simply do NOT produce without the right context. Sure I produced at college, it was a stimulating demanding college context. I produce for all my commercial clients. I’m a committed serious professional, it is also what I love to do.
However as you saw above I have discovered a fresh appetite and enthusiasm for my craft and I need to create a context within which to produce, both lectures and actual new personal work. I needed a context which will sustain this activity.
This is why I am here and now publicly committing to a blog and a gallery.
If it does not sound too creepy. It is why I am committing to you.
OK that was a bit creepy.
Let’s simply call it a contract with myself to deliver a promise.
I am inviting you to join me on this journey.
Which is very exciting!
My understanding of blogs are they are a channel for free expression. Thinking a word is nothing compared to writing it down. Giving it physical form, making it tangible and available for examination and improvement. Putting it ‘out there’. To be spoken out loud or spoken in the mind of another and reflected upon. To speak is to share, to share is to add to social activity. A blog is a shared space to explore and offer up ideas to be ignored, ridiculed, developed and possibly become stimulus for creative feedback.
That’s the theory. I like this theory.
The blog for me has the potential to be like a blank canvas awaiting the producer to begin mark making with ideas. A creative churning of all aspects of their craft. A site to make ideas real.
This is fun ...
A Gallery? Why create an online Print Gallery?
I have worked within the business to business (B2B) world of commercial activity all my professional life. Business to customer (B2C) is a totally different and challenging world. So much more to consider. B2B has limited clients, B2C has multiple customers. This is entering the world of retail. Peter’s Print Gallery which exists solely on the web, is the result of many, many hours during COVID of learning and making mistakes as we stumbled along trying to achieve the maximum potential from restricted design / e-commerce platforms … I'm not a coder … and add to that print /paper testing, testing, testing.
Collecting the final testsAll this was only possible because of the invaluable work of the excellent and hugely talented designer Micheline Mannion whose clear sightedness and rigour achieved the realisation of the design within tough budget and design constraints, as well as protecting the design from my often ill informed suggestions. Micheline also developed my professional brand and website.
Design by Micheline Mannion
Printed by Letterpress Manufaktur Hamburg
So why take on so much additional work and responsibility? Promoting and sustaining a print gallery requires a whole new set of skills.
Why not use the existing social media platforms? Well, I simply find social media too overwhelming, too crowded, so much ‘noise’ driven by addiction rewarding algorithms. I used to be down these social media addictive often ranting ‘rabbit holes’ and thankfully have escaped. Much to the relief of my friends.
The answer to why create a personal gallery is easy ...
• Mindful that images on hard drives or prints left in filing cabinets become lifeless voids of nothingness.
• Mindful that every photograph / image exists for and contains an almost desperate yearning to, tell you its story. Think of your dog looking at you wanting to go for that walk, oh that yearning look.
I had to create a platform of my own that ensured my research and image making had direct expression for comment, feedback and hopefully enjoyment.
This new modus operandi had to be one of Creating to Display.
‘Peter’s Print Gallery’ and the ‘Peter's Deep Dive’ blog are two sites for exploration, sharing and feedback and they complete my context project for personal work. A balancing modus operandi to my commercial existence.
That is the plan.
Wow! If you have got this far I am truly honoured!
Over the coming weeks, months and years I hope you will enjoy what follows, as much as I will enjoy creating it.
All photographs © Peter Durant