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After Ansel Adams, Charlie Waite is probably the most well known, best loved landscape photographers who has ever lived.
I first became aware after ordering his book, The Making Of Landscape Photographs, through those book clubs which were spammed a lot in photography magazines. This was probably early to mid 90s. I learned a fair bit from that book, though landscapes were never my number one subject, i did find his work compelling.
Landscape, the story of 50 photographs came out in 2005, which i immediately bought, much larger format than the previous book, with the most spectacular landscape photography i have ever laid my eyes on.
What really captivated me the most were his images of stair cases, specially those found in Italy, they have always stuck in my mind, and Charlie makes no secret of his love of staircases.
So, there i was last night on facebook, seeing the updates on the homepage, and i noticed something about the local camera club, with some fella called Charlie Waite attending to give a lecture as part of the Wisbech Arts Festival, the following day, being monday the 28th may 2012.
I didnt have to think for long, i knew i would be going, and the venue was literally a stones throw from my house, at the local football stadium (yes, Wisbech has culture, as well as a football stadium it seems).
I was there by 19:20, it began at halfpast, so i got half a shandy from the bar and found a spare seat, the only spare seat, by the time it began it was standing room only, the venue was packed out.
After a short intro from the club leader, Charlie came on, and discussed the effect our subconscious mind has on our photography. which oddly enough, was something i was pondering over today as i looked through Waites's books. I began to realize that his work as a landscape photographer had greatly influenced my work as a portrait photographer.
He loves staircases, so do i, i include many in my images, they are visually appealing, and they also ask questions, like, where do you think im going? Up, yes, to where? There is a romantic mystery about stairs, and today at the lecture, as Charlie spoke about how what we see influences us, i knew he was talking sense, and i clicked with it immediately.
And to my joy, one of those lovely staircases were shown on a projected screen. That wonderful monochrome which was taken at Cienfuegos, Cuba, which Charlie informed us, those stairs didnt lead anywhere, which was the feeling i had. We didnt see that marvellous Palazzo Giovanelli interior, or the Palazzo Vergottini, Lombardy courtyard image, which were the ones which really inspired and influenced my work.
It is the epic feel that i loved, in such a confined space. They look grand, without being too pretentious, or over bearing. I am not sure i can achieve anything near that depth, yet the influence is clearly there.
Sitting in that hall listening to him was a joy. He is a charming man, with an obvious passion for photography, in search of perfection. Two and a half hours passed by so fast.
I got to meet him very briefly, and blurted out how his staircases continues to influence my work, and i asked him if he saw anything in the fens on his way here, worthy of capture...
He remains hopeful