Dean Barwell

I learnt to use a camera by self-tuition and then went on to study photography at college. I soon grew bored of the rules of subject matter, composition and the anal pursuit of text book perfection as they seemed to me to suffocate the art of photography. I wanted to take photographs that were different, photographs that told a story. Photographs that were grainy and on grade 5 paper were the ones I loved, not grey scale, grade 1, perfect focus Birthday card tripod shots.

I have always ignored the whole scene in favour of running in to it to find a fine detail that is exciting to the eye. Pointing the camera up or down instead of at the obvious is always possible and often results in the best images. Finding a mundane subject and making it appeal is something that Black and White photography is made for. We can all take a photograph we cannot all see one.

I have never wanted to do weddings or portraits and no matter how beautiful a landscape is if I point a camera at it the end result is always quite unspectacular irrespective of whether I get the horizon in the right place or not.

What I loved about photography when I started and still do now is watching the image appear before me in the darkroom. Every photograph I create is hand developed and hand printed. The only manipulation of my photographs is done by me in the darkroom and involves traditional skills such as dodging and burning. I will crop a photograph in the darkroom for aesthetic appeal however I never add or take anything from a photograph when taking it. Sometimes I know why something is there sometimes I don’t but I would never remove or place something into a shot. I take as I find.

Black and White photography is where the art is for me. Seeing in tones rather than the world of colour we live in takes a certain skill and it suits the photographs I like to take. I seem to see pattern and shape or find the humorous side of something that has been ignored by everyone else.