As I have taken people around the exhibition it has been very rewarding to see that the vast majority have not only accepted the more experimental and abstract pieces but also been explicit about how inspired they have been by looking at them. Some have even encouraged me to be more pro-active about exploiting their commercial potential, recognising the design elements inherent in some of the images.
I had been expecting people to be more sceptical, especially as they come across such images immediately after looking at the more traditional black and white photographs. It is as if they are reassured by seeing the black and white and thus feel ready for something new. Inevitably it is the glass pieces that attract the greatest attention and about which I answer the majority of the questions, but other images, especially those where the camera has been deliberately moved as the photo is being taken so as to create an impressionistic effect, have also surprised and enthused people. It is as if they like having to use their imaginations to work out not only what the photograph is capturing and ‘describing’, but also to unravel the techniques involved in producing them. These images have led to many very good conversations with other photographers who are also experimenting, some with new digital wizardry, but some who have gone back into the past and resurrected darkroom techniques that hark back to the Victorian era.
It is as if we have reached a point where digital technology has moved on so fast that some people are going back to the roots of photography, an art form that is after all still less than 200 years old, to make sure the pace of change doesn’t bury such ideas, techniques and skills for ever.