Philip Berryman


Nicole & Andrew

This is one of my favourite quotes and as terrible as it is I have no idea who said this. Oscar Wilde said many great quotes but I know I can’t attribute this one to him. I’ve had it kicking around a while written on a scrap of paper and I often reflect on it. It goes as follows:

Early in Leonard Freed’s career Edward Steichen, the then director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art bought three of his photographs for the museum. Steichen told Freed that he was the best out of the 3 young photographers he had seen and urged him to remain an amateur, as the other two were now doing commercial photography and their work had become uninteresting. Preferably he advised him to become a truck driver. Anon.

It is wonderful that I am involved in a career that I enjoy. To be able to earn a living from something you feel you are very suited to or one feels destined to do. To make money from something you feel is an extension of your very personality or your ability to express and create is a great thing for sure. Given that, I wonder of course how many photographers are actually shooting the kind of photography they really want to if they had complete freedom and choice. Not only that how many of us are caught up in shooting one particular type of photography based on necessity. Or perhaps because it’s the particular discipline you sort of found yourself ending up doing for whatever reason but it wasn’t your first choice and now its too late to change. I figure if I won the lottery I would defiantly pursue personal projects and I’m sure I would spend less time scurrying around dusty old churches in Hampshire and Surrey. But that quote makes me also wonder how much have we neglected the wonder of what we saw and created as young photographers before we were affected by the industry, the trends, the need to conform and the restrictions of the ‘brief’. How much are we swayed by the demands of our clients and societies expectations rather than giving something truly original and ‘clean’? I consider some of the photography I shot when I was in my late teens and early twenties and for sure it has a freshness an originally about it. I was not aware there were rules and nobody told me you can't shoot it like that. In fact truth be told there are a few images on this web site that were shot when I was just 19 or 20 I think. That’s madness really but they are beautiful, relevant and simply still work. How much can one work in total isolation to keep pure your vision, completely unaffected by other photographers influence. But then arguably that is not necessarily such a bad thing. It can be good to be influenced and inspired by other great photographers. Of course it’s virtually impossible to be completely original nowadays given the length of time photography has been around, the sheer number of people taking pictures and the ability to share imagery so rapidly and globally.

Edward Steichen suggested that Leonard Freed become truck driver and take pictures on the side and avoid the restraints of becoming a professional photographer that may hinder his pure vision and brilliance. The closest I think I’ve come to such a person was when I used to teach photography. I taught both at the Guildford Adult Education School and also at Millfield School summer photography course in Somerset. My students were a wonderful range of people from all walks of life and all ages. Many of them amazed me with what they were able to produce in such a short space of time. This was all pre digital and by the end of the course they had to not only have mastered a 35mm SLR camera, but shot a body of work, learnt to black and white wet print in the dark room and then believe it or not put on an exhibition at the end of the course. All for the pleasure of the school’s other students to visit and enjoy. All under my guidance and help as tutor. Now one student remains in my mind. He was an elderly farmer and his work stood out. He had an incredible eye for composition and produced beautifuly balanced images. He had a keen understanding of light and was able to render landscapes in harmony with the play of light over the hills. He exhibited a good sense of timing and all round was clearly very visually aware and talented. I figured years spent out in the countryside away from the confines of a desk job had meant that he was forever watching and seeing. That being essential for anyone working in a visual medium. I wonder thus could he be a true undiscovered talent whose brilliance will go forever unnoticed and he is the truck driver that Steichen described. Keeping his vision true.

Well I'm doing my best to keep my vision true and try to see life through fresh eyes. Using those very same eyes I photographed the awesome wedding of Nicole and Andrew. The moment I met Nicole and Andrew I knew I would enjoy photographing their wedding. Maybe it was Nicole’s Manchester warmth, friendliness and charm but I felt so utterly welcomed, trusted and loved throughout this whole commission. The reception was held at East Houghton Golf Club in Southampton, which is a great venue and blessed with clean lawns (what one would expect at a golf course really), lovely canopy trees and picturesque spots for portraits. The day was filled with emotion and laughter and I had so much fun being part of this wonderful celebration. The light was kind, the guests heaven to snap, the bride and groom simply gorgeous to photograph and all round this was a happy day! Just wish I had that farmer to give me a helping hand.