Question & Answers from James Lomax

  1. James my name is Robby Silk and I am amateur photographer and writer who has just started their own website. I really like your photography and how you combine it with your own words. Do you have any advice for someone getting started? If you do I would like to hear what you have to say.

    Robby Silk · Jun 3, 06:22 PM · §

  1. It’s a big subject with no clear landmarks or routes.

    Personally, I’m quite bored with the usual genre of mountain writing that merely describes a walking trip in one way or another: either a route description or an account of the day. What you see me do at my web site (recently) is rather different, interjecting and mixing with psychology, emotion, philosophy, and literary references, which blend into interesting narrative. You need to have this facility at your fingertips – you can’t construct it with any process of research, as such.

    For this genre of photography/writing (mountain walking), you need a technical ability and aesthetic feel for the former combined with literary/intellectual experience.

    Useful books in this regard are those by Robert McFarlane and Rebecca Solnit for mountains and others by Peter Berger, Willem Flusser, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes and Mary Price for the semantics of photography. Also check out the ideas of Henri Cartier-Bresson – there’s a great book called Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art, by Jean-Pierre Montier.

    And it has to be a topic you really care about – one of the points made in another useful book, On Being A Photographer by Hurn and Jay.

    Finally, Robert Adams in Beauty in Photography borrows these criteria from novelist William James:

    What is the artist trying to do?

    Does he do it?

    Was it worth doing?

    I think it’s significant that these points come from a novelist and critic. Writer Geoff Dyer has occasionally said (I’ve read 3 of his books and been to two of his talks, one as part of my Photography MA), that photographers are not very intelligent. He meant it provocatively and not as a blanket generalisation. There’s some truth in this, if you look at the headhunting, story chasing, glamour-making fabrications of much photographic activity.

    James Lomax · Jun 13, 03:53 PM · §