LEICA SL-KITS - Unlock Your Creativity Today: Discover More

It?s all about me


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
...Read More

It’s all about me

25 Jul 2021 2:12AM   Views : 466 Unique : 354


Anyone who writes articles or blogs will realise but it’s all about them. Of course, it’s the same with pictures – every picture we take reflects our own likes and dislikes, our prejudices and preferences.
I keep going back to the late Roger Hicks’ pieces in Amateur Photographer. They reflect his experience as a writer, as a photographer, and as a human being. In that sense, they’re all about him: but he’s always rather in the background. Every one of them is a careful analysis of a single picture and he’s incredibly wide-ranging in the material he draws on.

Often, there’s something about the technical side of the picture, the depth of field or the shutter speed, and how this was essential to the overall effect that the picture creates. Always, the piece is literate and humane: Hicks treats every human being with the same respect, and uses language in the way that would draw the approval of any English teacher. He gives details of the historical context of the picture, of what it might have meant that the time that it was taken and what it means now. He reflects on why the photograph might have been taken and the resources needed to produce it.

There is usually something about the composition of the image, and there’s often a comment about how it fits into the work that the photographer was produced over a period of time. In the article in front of me now, he writes ‘it is recursive: the photographer takes the pictures, and the pictures influence the photographer.’

You can produce a checklist of these things that Roger Hicks seemed to put into every article with the appearance of effortless grace, but writing something in the same way, covering all of these points is far, far harder. The many writers who have filled the last page of Amateur Photographer since Roger Hicks died have generally failed abysmally. One or two of them have come close to the high standard that the set. But many of them seemed to have got lost in a well of their own experience.

Hicks had been a professional write for most of his adult life, and an AP columnist for a good while before the start of the Final Analysis column that excites my admiration so much. His writing is never less than competent, and he and his wife, Frances Schultz, take the credit for numerous photographic books where they were contracted to provide text as part of a publisher’s series of themed volumes. His AP columns were the ultimate product of many years’ accumulation of knowledge and understanding, and they often achieve wisdom, I believe.

The nature of a blog is that it starts from the writer’s experience: and I have no other way to see the world but from where I stand and threw my eyes. That doesn’t mean that I have to become fixated on my own experience or feelings, unless they of the subject of the blog. I hope that by setting out what I see as the extreme professionalism of Roger Hicks’ writing I shall remind myself of what I need to do, and possibly suggest a better way for the terminally self-involved (if they ever read other people’s blogs).

Recent blogs by dudler

Focus scales

If you’ve been taking pictures since before autofocus arrived, you’ll be very familiar with focus scales – they are one of the primary controls on an old-school camera, and just one more of the things that you really needed to get right. With autof...

Posted: 27 Dec 2022 7:01AM

Porcelain processing

People commented on the look in my last post and it seems like a good idea to share the secrets for Christmas. I learned the technique several years ago: a model’s boyfriend told me about it, and a website that described it in detail: I tried it, l...

Posted: 23 Dec 2022 10:47AM

You develop your own films don’t you?

If you have your own darkroom, or if you use film cameras regularly, there are always a few people who mention the attic. As in ‘Grandpa’s cameras are in the attic. I don’t even know if they have film in them!’ This leads me to ask if I can have a l...

Posted: 16 Aug 2022 11:17AM

Choose your pond

There’s an old saying about being a big fish and a little pond. Do you want to be the most important person in a small organisation, or are you content being a relatively small cog in a big machine? It’s the same in photography. With relatively mo...

Posted: 3 Jun 2022 2:25PM

Graduated filters

This is for Hannah, and anyone else who has come across the casual way that a lot of togs talk about one or two types of filter that landscaper photographers use a lot: graduated filters and neutral density filters. A graduated filter is one that i...

Posted: 25 Apr 2022 12:18PM


dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
25 Jul 2021 2:19AM
You'll find many pages of titles on various internet sales sites. Treat yourself!
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
25 Jul 2021 10:30AM
Final Analysis.
Recently the photos have been very ordinary, requiring 50 words of explanation at most. Advertising space wasted and lost.Sad
topsyrm Avatar
topsyrm Plus
12 28 United Kingdom
25 Jul 2021 11:42AM
Very true.
Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 14 12 147 United Kingdom
25 Jul 2021 5:25PM
I think your right about writing any of artical John, it's hard not to take your own view of things not matter what the subject matter.
I sure that since he passed that he would have been glad how much he is still thought about, and hope that some of that great knowledge has been passed on.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
25 Jul 2021 5:25PM
There are some good pieces, still - notably, Damien Demolder and Tim Clinch write well about the pictures. But some others are distinctly self-indulgent.

And part of what RH did was to find, to excavate the significance of an image.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
25 Jul 2021 9:26PM
Roger Hicks was very matter-of-fact about dying: he let his diagnosis be known to the readership shortly before he died, and his last ever piece was about his own photograph of 'broken treasures' - finishing with the words that life itself, for him, was now a broken treasure.

I am certain that he would be glad that he's remembered - and that the books he wrote are still selling.

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.