When my Grandmother died we found a tin full of negatives, contact prints and diaries. My Grandfather took these pictures in Johannesburg, Palestine and Cairo whilst serving in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.
His name was James Smith (1st photograph), he was an armourer and it was his job to load ammunition and bombs onto the aircrafts. His duties also included the recovery of crashed aircrafts, removing live ammunition from wrecks and retrieving the bodies of allied and enemy soldiers.
After the war, he returned to working as a bricklayer. He married and started a family. None of us were aware of these pictures until after his death.
How and when did you become interested in photography?
I became interested in photography about 15 years ago. At that time, I started taking photographs of elderly couples during their ballroom dancing practice in a local community hall. The resulting pictures were completely different from what I expected and since then I have been fascinated by what the camera captures, especially the things you fail to notice or understand at the time.
Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?
Robert Frank, especially his polaroid images from the mid 1970’s, as well as other photographers such as; Duane Michaels, Todd Hido, Hellen Van Meene, Robert Adams, Bill Henson, Ralph Eugene Meatyard.
Why do you work in black and white rather than colour?
In the last 5 years, I have worked exclusively in black and white. It reduces information, I like to make simple, uncluttered images and I find black and white less distracting. The lack of colour information in an image focuses the viewers attention on the light and there is something timeless about black and white photography that appeals to me.
How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?
For this project, it took a long time. It wasn’t until we were clearing out Grandmother’s house after she had died, that I discovered the images. At the time, there was tin of large format negatives and some contact prints. It wasn’t until 2014 when I became a member of Stattlab, an analogue photography collective, located in the Wedding area of Berlin that I had access to a large format enlarger. Printing the images was time consuming and at times frustrating, but incredibly satisfying. When I began making the prints from those negatives, then I realised what a gift these images are.
Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?
I intend to continue to make more personal work and there are more images to add to this project.