Curating pictures is an art in itself, and one where the fashion changes over time. I have to take a personal view of my own work largely because I view photography as an autobiographical process but also because I tend to categorise images as much by style as by subject matter. In sorting over five hundred images taken over thirty years some are grouped by subject, others by technique. None of the shots are gathered in series as I don't work that way, rather I expect each image to stand on its own generating its own atmosphere and narrative.
For my purposes, the qualities of composition are more important than the subject; I look for focus and background, line and tone. Line and tone are important to me as an unreformed Modernist, but technique and methodology are also important and rather than lump things into 'genres' I tend to make associations based on ideas of the abstract. The subject may be the hook that draws me in, but to make something of that I must work to make it fit the square or rectangle. There are many ways to divide up the canvas, but the limits of the edge or frame are always there. Everything within is imaginary, but a strong image should spill outwards to evoke a response that is real. Squeeze your eyes half shut when looking at a crisp nude or landscape and you see blurs of line, colour or tone as precisely imprecise as an abstract. The formal arrangements of composition and tone, etc, override the genre.
The wider definition of genre is a 'type' or area of subject matter: portrait, landscape, still life, etc. But whatever elements we find satisfying or stimulating in the structure of an image can be found almost anywhere - the balance or harmonies we are attracted to are as important to the landscape photographer as they are to the nude artist. And unless one has an aversion to any one particular subject or style, the same formal qualities can be appreciated across the range.
All the images in Meniscus Nudes and Meniscus Places were shot with a variety of single element meniscus lenses. They share the flavour of selective defocus even though the subject matter and the settings are markedly different. If I am shooting with a camera system or lens I have put together myself then I'm more than likely to work with black and white negative film as I can look after every stage of the process from shooting to developing and scanning. It's not just that I have an eye for B&W, there's also the matter of cost, and of maintaining control over the entire process.
I have chosen to separate the portraits in black and white from the portraits in colour because it can be disconcerting for the mind to continually shift from 'reading' an image to just 'looking', but both collections are by and large chronological and the two therefore run in parallel. Some shots in each gallery were actually taken during the same session.
By contrast, the Naked Bike Ride series, which catalogues several years of the Cardiff bike rides together, contain a mix of sharp and defocused shots, black and white and colour. The remaining galleries contain some colour mixed with the black and white, either because it is the colour itself that is important in the context or because the shots are from a period when I was shooting exclusively in colour.
If I had to play to a market it would be different, perhaps, but I have little market sensitivity. Possibly having few roots in any one country fosters a greater awareness of cultural similarities than of differences and this transfers to my perspective on image making. We can never place ourselves in the shoes of other makers but we can sense, I think, an equivalence between depictions of a bison hunt scratched onto a cave wall and the photojournalist's record of an atrocity. Mankind's history is a fairly short story and visual associations have breadth. Each person brings their own background and make-up to their appreciation of an image and will interpret anything new through the filters and blinkers of memory.
You will see what you choose in an image and relate to it in your own way. I hope you enjoy them.