“I make photographs in quite a slow, considered way.” Richard Aldred Photography
Richard Aldred (born 1982) is a contemporary photographer currently based in Malvern, England. He has an undergraduate degree in Commercial Photography from “Liverpool John Moores University”, and a postgraduate degree in Photography from the University of Bolton. For Richard Aldred photography has recently turned from a hobby to something more serious.
Artist statement: “I’m a photographer with both commercial and artistic practice. Commercially, I undertake mostly architectural, editorial and documentary-style work. Recent personal projects have explored the importance of leisure and everyday activities in forming communities and relationship to place.”
Richard Aldred, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
It was initially a portable hobby while I travelled with work. As my interest and ability developed, it became a medium to share my interests and my way of seeing, and, more recently, my job.
A photographer has many “tools” at hand to bring across his message: lenses, lighting, framing, color treatment etc. Can you elaborate a little bit on the techniques you used for this particular project in order to link form and content?
With practice, the technical choices become almost second nature. I selected some of my lenses to render scenes in particular ways, but, having bought them, this isn’t a frequent consideration.
I make photographs in quite a slow, considered way. They have a sense of authorship – they are made following the same approach, and represent the interests I find in places. This shared view, and consistencies of light and colour palette help make each series feel cohesive.
This is a potential pairing from my current project called “Lesser Monuments”. I’m not sure whether I’ll use it yet, as it could be considered to be making negative social comment, which I don’t intend. The link is more abstract. Each has a quietness and a large-scale, one of width and size of barrier obstructing view, and one of depth.
In other words: How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
“I see a scene to which I respond, and then find the particular angle and distance.”
Initially, I was self-taught and had the freedom and time to develop my own interests. I look at a lot of photography and visual art. This refined (and continues to develop) my ideas about how I want to represent my subjects, and I took a course to ensure I had the technical skills to realize these visual ideas. I then took another course to strengthen my theoretical knowledge and ability to discuss my work.
I make most of my photographs while walking or cycling. I see a scene to which I respond, and then find the particular angle and distance to subject which best convey what interests me about it.
More images from Richard Aldred Photography
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at you photos?
The photographs take life as their subject and are the result of sustained seeing. I want people to recognize a similarity with the places they experience daily and have a more vital experience, seeing more and enjoying more in their daily lives.
John Szarkowski commented on this in the introduction to William Eggleston’s Guide:
“It would be marvelous (…) if the place itself, and not merely the pictures, were the work of art. It would be marvelous to think that the ordinary, vernacular life in and around Memphis might be in its quality more sharply incised, formally clear, fictive, and mysteriously purposeful than it appears elsewhere, endowing the least pretentious of raw materials with ineffable dramatic possibilities.” (Szarkowski in Eggleston, 2002, p5)
It is possible for people to see like this, because seeing is the learned skill at the centre of photography. What people respond to varies: it might be an activity represented, atmosphere, type of place – and this could be from a familiarity or a contrast with their experience.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I’m pleased that you asked about inspiration rather than influence. Joel Meyerowitz and Juergen Teller both stand out. The interests Meyerowitz finds in places and how he represents them particularly appeal to me. Conversely, Teller sees in a very different way to me.
I don’t see what he does in a place before he photographs it, but his images make perfect sense and are very attractive. I admire the range of photographs he makes effectively, and he inspires me to do more, in life and photographically.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
I don’t have a particular favourite. John Szarkowski, Joel Meyerowitz, and Robert Adams all write very well. This one is from Robert Adams:
“Among the best things about photography is that by its nature it has to begin with specific cases. A tree is first of all wonderful as the particular tree it is. If it doesn’t live for us in that way then it’s not going to take us further. Though eventually, yes, a tree does point beyond itself. And our experience of it is enriched by associations and intuitions.” (Adams in Brown, 2006, petertbrown.com)
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
Most of my work is digital for speed of turnaround, but I use various film formats where conceptually appropriate, I want the visual qualities of a particular film stock and development process, or I intend to make a particularly large print.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
What book about photography would you recommend?
Joel Meyerowitz: “Creating Sense of Place”.
The text takes the form of an interview by Constance Sullivan. It discusses Meyerowitz’ approach to photographing place, and why his practice developed from 35mm street photography to his later 8”x10” work.
The language is very accessible – something I strive to achieve when talking about photography – but offers a lot to consider.
More information about contemporary photographer Richard Aldred
Official homepage “Richard Aldred Photography”: www.richardaldred.com