It’s a big welcome back to the MSM interview series – we kick off 2010 with a chat to Stuart Murdoch…
Whyalla 1998, by Stuart Murdoch.
you have been involved with photography for a long time, both on a professional level and for your own enjoyment. how did you start out and how has your outlook changed over the years? There is, in my memory, no definitive starting point where I decided I was going to actively pursue photography. I remember brief encounters with it in my later years of schooling. The turning point though really was a duty free camera that I’d bought before going away overseas as a young man in my early 20’s. I took plenty of photos but they left me wanting, and within six months I’d begun exploring my options in regards to further study and photography, and now here I am nearly 30 years later and I’m still enamoured by the power of what a photograph can say or tell, or not tell for that matter.
Untitled, by Stuart Murdoch.
do you have a preferred technique or camera? how does this help you realize your artistic goals? My technique is usually driven by how I plan on ultimately sharing the image, or the ideas behind the series of images I’m making.
If its sole purpose is to be viewed on a screen, any capture device will do, but if I plan on exhibiting in real life on paper in a gallery for example, then I prefer my Hasselbald or my Linhof Technika II. The optics on the ‘blad are superb, and all I need worry about while making an image with it is my composition as the lens renders all in its path with an almost too honest attitude. The Linhof slows you down to a point where every image has to count. Ultimately though, I work with what I have at hand.
Having said that I recently bought bought a Canon G11, for its size and power and flexibility, and I hope to produce some solid work with it over the coming years.
what artists and movements have been important to you? are there any that have had a lasting impact on you? The most influential artists for me have been those who made images of the urban landscape during the 70’s when photography had its first major shift in artistic credentials. People like Joe Deal, Lewis Baltz, Frank Gohlke, Bernd and Hiller Becher and Robert Adams all were part of a group of photographers that were in a show entitled ‘New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape’, held in 1975 at George Eastman House, curated by William Jenkins. In particular Robert Adams who writes eloquently as a photographer about photography.
37.794338/144.833584, by Stuart Murdoch.
which one do you value more, change or consistency? In Photography? Hard to say, as I see value in both – change is good particularly if something good comes from it, but consistency too can be worthwhile, showing a purpose to one’s vision and craft.
show us one of your favourite shots and tell us a bit about it. how did you take it, and is there a story behind it? Again that’s a hard question, the images I probably get the most satisfaction from are the ones I revisit a period of time after making them that show or reveal to me more than I initially saw when first composing then pressing the shutter. The process can take years, or it can take as long as a roll of film takes to return from the lab. If they nudge my works and ideas in a new direction the all the more important, but really we are all like fishermen aren’t we? Always chasing the one that got away.
show us a favourite shot from the MSM pool. what do you enjoy in other people’s photos? So much talent in the pool makes it difficult to single any one person out, I like Cameron Stephen’s playful approach to his imagery and Andrew Cosgriff’s often pithy and somewhat wry take on the sights of almost darker recesses of Melbourne, but one image maker who really sticks in my mind is Morganna Magee’s work – in particular her brutally honest series of images about her father and Tyler. It is photography without pretense, yet brimming full of compassion.
Dad, by Morganna Magee.
Image 1, by Morganna Magee.
give us a question to ask the next person for this series: Is your work a mirror or a window?
Thanks for your time and thoughts Stuart! Stuart can be found all over the net but you can start by checking out these pages http://www.flickr.com/photos/s2art/, http://blog.stunik.com/ or http://altfotonet.org/.