Now that my gallery has been closed for nearly a year the majority of my imagery is sold through other galleries and retailers across Scotland. I have an agent to cover this side of the business but unfortunately following a terrible accident in which both his legs were crushed below the knee he has been out of action for over a year. I find it difficult to sell my own work as I have too personal an attachment to it to be able to treat it purely as product. My wife has been capably managing sales for the past eighteen months while I concentrate on making images and all the work-flow that gets them onto the internet and ready for print, writing and running workshops.
Repeatedly over the past five years my previous agent, my wife and I’m sure my current agent when he heads back out into the fray are asked by prospective outlets to provide ‘local’ imagery and in a specific mood-that being typically a blue sky day with fluffy clouds or the golden glow of a sunset. Both are conditions that believe it or not we do find here in Scotland on a regular basis but neither of them appeal particularly to me as an artist. At first we would agree to their demands, keen to get the work in and see some potential growth but very quickly we realised that there was actually little to gain from this. Taking photographs is costly no matter how you capture the image because of the many other overheads such as fuel, accommodation, batteries, repairs etc. Calculate these costs into a set of unique images for a specific outlet and the break even point is not met until well into the second year of trading with them. Multiply that by X number of resellers that want you to create something specific and you’re simply digging yourself a large hole to get stuck in. For me however these points are less important than the fact that I would find myself making images that gave me little personal pleasure, either in the capturing or the viewing at a later date. I am naturally drawn to darker, more stormy scenes. That is my chosen mood of expression and that is therefore what we have to sell. Fortunately and happily it is holding its own amongst a sea of traditional photographic fare.
So why are my images so serious and dark? Perhaps I am not the person to answer that question, maybe a session or two with a shrink may provide a more revealing answer. My answer is; because that is what pushes all the right buttons for me. I do take photographs in other conditions but they just don’t fill me with the excitement that a rich, dark, stormy and atmospheric transparency fresh from the processor does. When I’m on the hill or beside the sea in a brisk wind, the first heavy droplets of rain falling around me as I fight to focus the camera under a twisting dark-cloth, the sun on the horizon bursting through the heavy cloud making critical decisions around the precise exposure challenging; that is when I feel most alive. The struggle has become an important part of my work-flow and when an image is finally sitting on my computer screen all of the battle is there to be seen and experienced in glorious detail. It’s the same feeling I get when I finally haul up onto a summit of a mountain and a stunning panorama is revealed at my feet, the total satisfaction achieved having prevailed under sustained difficult conditions.
On a different level do the images say something of my experiences of life in recent years? Would a critic in the future look at my current work with hindsight and say that these images are a reflection of the times and my own experiences in them? After all, personal health scares, the sudden and serious illness of your child and an economic downturn that nearly swept away everything you had worked for (and all in a two year period) is bound to affect your outlook on life. A client of mine purchased a selection of images a couple of years ago, all from the warmer side of the colour spectrum. These were all taken about five or six years ago, relatively near the start of my large format journey. He said that they presented a sense of ‘hope’ that he found appealing and asked if I could perhaps take more photographs like that as he felt they would probably be more commercially successful. He’s probably right, maybe now more than ever people do need to feel a sense of hope and would perhaps decorate and furnish their houses accordingly. But was he suggesting that my images are the opposite and perhaps full of despair? Again I don’t have that answer but I do know that in taking my current photographs I am actually trying to capture on film something that excites me and makes me happy and hope that this joy in so called bad weather is evident in the finished work.
Imagine how thrilled I will be when I capture my first lightning strike on film!!