Category Archives: Photographers

John Darwell

Having talked about Patrick Shanahan in a previous post I’ve been re-looking at English photographers that capture something uniquely ‘English’. John Darwell’s work touches me very deeply – I feel as if I am coming from a similar tradition in a way.

I worked and studied for many years in the North of England – in the early 80s I was teaching in Yorkshire during ‘the’ miners strike – and much of John’s work reflects this area.

There is a lot of work on his website and you can see his devlopment and concerns.

The above image is taken from In Isolation

From his statement…

In many ways the images presented here can best be regarded as my first exploratory attempts at finding a new vocabulary within which to work and as such can best viewed as an ongoing and continually developing ‘work in progress’.

In many ways the ability to move freely whilst observing the shifts occurring in the differing layers of focus was, and is, a wonderfully liberating and exciting development within my image making.

Echoes of my new stylistic approach can subsequently be seen within the majority of projects that have followed this period of experimentation.

Images from this series were initially shown along the escalator walls at London’s Euston Station.

He’s done a number of docu projects, none of which move me as deeply as the ones concerning things closer to home. Such as The Garden of Earthly Delights from which this image is taken.



I came across John’s work whilst researching for my Scene of the Crime project, his Black Dog work touched on a similar area



from the artist statement

This work is the culmination of three years of research and marks another major shift in my development. Here I attempt to take the viewer on an allegorical ‘journey’ through the process of depression as viewed from a first-hand perspective. Combined with the images are two text pieces * that carry the work forward to a conclusion that can be positive or negative depending on the perceptions of the viewer.


I start ‘loosing’ John after the garden of Earthly Delights – the series up until then I really enjoy. But definitely spend some time on his site.


Patrick Shanahan

Patrick Shanahan is someone I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. An English photographer-turned-academic whose work strikes a chord with its unique Englishness. We are swamped with various US-centric aesthetics, the German School etc etc so it is nice to see something so essential English.

His last published project, Esperantis also contains images shot in Spanish locations, some, like his Sitges pics, I’ve shot the same location, so you also get the same sense of ‘Brit in Spain’ I feel with some of my images. He seems to have a close link to Spain and has produced a number of bodies of work here.

My deliberate nod to this pic was this one, taken of the same location but from a different viewpoint

But enough of my pics and back to Patricks…

Terra Vision was a foreruner to the Esperantis project

However, my personal favourite was cornwall: a post-landscape project that looked at how the lack of local industry and the turn to tourism has changed the Cornwall landscape…

I love the kind of irony dealing with nationalist symbols that is almost completely lacking when dealing with American flags etc

Looking back from current work to the early work it is interesting to see how Patrick moved from producing icons to showing more context within his images

Although I’d love to have this hanging on the wall

W. Keith McManus

Out of the blue I had an email from Keith at the weekend, and I’ve been spending some time since then going through his new work, and re-looking at his older stuff.

Keith is an intereresting guy. He’s done/doing the pj and documentary photographer stuff, he’s now also producing documentary video work. He works 35mm, digi, LF, BW, colour you name it! His subject matter is also extensive – landscape, urban, people etc etc

I first really started taking notice of Keith when I saw this image of his:

It is an image of excquisite beauty; the red motif, repeated squares, the light, the viewpoint is perfect.

I think viewpoint is something Keith is very good at – he finds images that can only be described from this one POV – many photographers utilise ‘the moment’, but more for Keith is the ‘where’.

Keith is currently working on a project called Uniontown . Unfortunately these are on flickr and I haven’t found a way to link directly to the images. But spend some time on his flickr site. It is really refreshing to see a photographer with so many interests.

Mike Ryder

Tim Atherton beat me to talking about Mike’s work , but for a long time, I’ve been totally captivated by Mike’s photography. The reasons for this are numerous, but I’ll mention just three;

His way of working is to not edit or work with his images until significant time has passed. From personal experience I know that this gives you the opportunity to distance yourself from your images and also to allow your idea of the ‘keeper’ to develop.

His vision is something that I know is lacking in my own work. Even when I can’t compose on the gg and just point and guess, my pics have a formalism that I can’t (not sure if I want to, either) avoid. In comparison, Mike has the art of capturing the glimpsed moment down to perfection.

Mike’s aesthetic also brings with it an intriguing problem that I can’t wait to see resolved. When you look at his work and speak to him, you know that the individual image is subservient to the whole – you cannot pull images out of the set – everything needs to be looked at as a unit. So the question, how do you present this? As sequenced images printed as one and put on the wall? As a web gallery? A book? A multimedia display? I’m working my way through this problem in a couple of series I’m doing – no answer yet – but for Mike I think it is an urgent question that needs resolution.

For those looking for a place to start, I can recommend this series , or Mike’s latest collection here.


Forgot to add that Mike’s latest series has two more components, here  and here.

Ralph Ballerstadt

I’ve a great fondness for a lot of the colour work coming out of Memphis – notably Chris Patterson and Huger Foote.

However, another photographer whose work I like a lot who has the same personal use of colour as the ‘Memphis School’ without actually living in Memphis, and who has an intimate style reminiscent of Todd Deutsch , is Ralph Ballerstadt.

Over the last few years, Ralph has been developing a style where the composition and use of colour are integrated in a way few photographers seem to manage.

One slightly (only slightly!), annoying aspect of Ralph’s work is he never gives us complete bodies of work, but he prefers small, self contained, ‘sets’. But trawl his website, well worth it!