David’s work as a photographer spans from sharp and intimate portraits to poetic and at the same time powerful industrial and landscape photography.
In his artistic photographic practice David explores the human footprint in environmental and industrial contexts such as in his latest exhibition project ‘The Fall 2017 – 2018’ on display at Fox Gallery from 11 August – 2 September.
This series bears witness to the signs of human footprints within stunning fine art landscape images, in a comprehensive 1 year study portraying the 4 seasons.
David, you live and work next door to our gallery in North Melbourne. You have been working as a commercial photographer for over 15 years. Please tell us a bit about your transition from commercial to artistic photography and your interest and focus in landscape & industrial photography projects.
I have a broad appreciation of all disciplines of photography, equally rewarded by portraiture, still life, commercial work or documenting the world around me, but especially the landscape – both the natural & man made.
To each of these disciplines, I take the same meticulous approach, taking the time to craft a resultant image. I was trained in film, and analogue process, and like everyone through the last 15 years, have experienced the evolution and transition to digital media. With the first 10 years or so focusing on establishing my career, primarily investing in my business and equipment, it was finally time reinvest back into artistic practice & the stories I wished to tell, the attraction which had first drawn me to the medium. To document the world I inhabited, the way I saw it. Not the way a commercial brief did so. Discovering art in the “New Topographic” style, finding visual interest in the man altered landscape & the more banal was a pivotal point in forging my own style. I am fascinated by the items we surround ourselves with, as they create graphic compositions in the landscape. Not so much the function or purpose for these objects, more the graphic interventions they create within the natural or urbanized environment. In 2013 I produced my first solo exhibition, “The Hum of Industry”.
You have been working on ‘The Fall’ series for a few years now and have exhibited early beginnings of it in 2016 (The Fall, JCP Studios Melbourne 2016) and at the Ballarat Photo Biennale in 2017. Please describe the origin of this project and how it has progressed over the last couple of years into your Artist in Residency 1 year study that lead to the exhibition at Fox Gallery.
In August 2015 with a lull in commercial work, and a growing sensibility of photography becoming a medium in rush: we had seen the onset of Instagram, and especially in a commercial sense, experienced the term “content” be attributed to photography, instead of craft, I set myself the challenge of beginning a new project, something that would take time, something that would slow the pace down, and something that would allow me to be patient & observe. In 2016 I traveled to the snow covered alpine regions of Australia, to document ski infrastructure and the landscape, which was eventually exhibited in November of that year as “The Fall” to great success and an invigorated passion & outlook for the craft.
I was eager to continue this momentum, to throw myself into this project, however in a Southern hemisphere context, would need to wait until the following year to continue in winter. It sparked an evolution in thinking, this snow-covered environment I enjoyed is transient. What happens before the snow arrives? What does this landscape look like when it melts? What is the overriding narrative in this complete cycle? In one of the inexplicable timings in life, I had become aware of an inaugural residency at Falls Creek being offered, to assist artists with conceptual development and those working in an Alpine context. After presenting the idea of returning monthly to Falls Creek for 1 year to document the region, I was extremely honored to be an inaugural recipient of the grant. The 2018 exhibition marks a 1 year timeline, beginning from the first period of residency in March 2017 through to March 2018.
Falls Creek is a much sought after region for landscape photographers, so e.g. for Paul Hoelen who is part of the fine art landscape collaborative ‘The Light Collective’. Can you describe your unique approach and angle for The Falls motifs?
Falls Creek is undoubtedly a stunning part of Australia. From the project’s very inception, I knew imagery would be simply stunning, graphic and minimal, and in the 2016 expression in Snow covered winter conditions indeed it was. Evolving to the year study, I endeavored to let go of any pre meditated imagery in my mind, and simply immerse myself in the location, to let the location tell me the story. All I had to be was present as often as I could, have a willingness to observe, be prepared and open to whatever the conditions may throw at me. My process has always been very meticulous, technique driven and faithful to the subject, to avoid making imagery over manufactured. Your process can change quite a lot over a year. In Feb 2018, with the project nearly complete & most of my work already captured I happened to stumble across some of Arthur Streeton’s works on a visit to the NGA. The tonality, colour palette & richness of the landscape, just gave me the final piece of the puzzle, of how to edit, how to curate the final collection from the extensive body of work, and how to faithfully convey the experience of when the photographs were captured.
Can you tell us about future projects and what you are currently working on?
Work on The Fall has continued to present day, beyond the year I had set myself. Each trip I gather new ideas, new ways of seeing and no two days let alone hours are the same – an overriding mantra in this entire project. The snow does not last, neither does the seasons, or the light. In any exhibition, you have to curate a collection to the space, and the body of work of The Fall is infinitely larger than the collection prepared for the Fox Darkroom. The next Plans for The Fall is to have the body of work made into a book – representing several years of study, and my entire experience at Falls Creek.
Another project I have been contributing to over several years, has been photographed in Victoria’s coastal areas of the Great Ocean Road with no set completion date at this stage.