Even though we are well into the digital age, photography remains strongly linked to the past, as Ian Rolfe explainsâ€¦
Now into its third century, the art of photography has a much loved and respectful history. From Daguerreotypes to Digital there has been constant change and innovation. The challenge to produce wonderful images of man and his environment inspires us all. Yet in-spite of all the changes we still marvel at how the pioneers of photography composed and captured the light in much the same way we do today.
As a small boy I was constantly drawn to a large photograph stuck to the back of my grandfatherâ€™s writing desk, and every time I visited my grandparentsâ€™ house I wanted to look at that image because it strongly evoked in me the sense of a time long gone, an eerie yet peaceful place, full of mystery. The photo was an image of the Devon moors, photographed by Alfred Horsley Hinton. It had originally been a gift from Hinton to my great grandfather.
This man has become my inspiration from the past, as his astonishing landscapes motivate me every-time I study them.
Alfred Hinton was a truly wonderful and gifted landscape photographer who contributed regularly to nearly all Photographic and art periodicals throughout Britain. He was the Publisher and Editor of the Amateur Photographer magazine from 1897 until his death, ran a successful studio in Guildford, published articles and books throughout Europe and America, judged at countless exhibitions and was responsible for the articles on Photography in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He was also a founding member of the Linked Ring Brotherhood, the first group in the world to promote photography as fine art. Photographic societies worldwide still use their term â€œSalonâ€ for exhibitions.
Amazingly he found time to travel around England, Europe and America with his wife Louisa – herself a noted artist of the day and a pupil in the style of John Constable – taking beautiful moody landscapes, which today are kept in many Museums and galleries around the world. With regard to his photographs J. Dudley Johnston OBE and past President of the Royal Photographic Society said of him: â€œI think it was Horsley Hinton who exercised the most profound influence on British landscape photography and raised it to a higher plane of imaginative visionâ€¦During his brief career he was the greatest force operating in the sphere of British photography.â€
Hinton produced extremely moody and dramatic landscapes which he printed on heavy coated platinum, and the end result was a photograph that is ageless, and an image that compels the viewer to almost wish that they could have been there to experience it for themselves. Although I love intense saturated colours in most of my landscape work, I have recently been experimenting with Monochrome and Sepia toned images.
Perhaps it’s that photo in the writing desk that is influencing me now in later years. Perhaps itâ€™s because I am constrained at times to create moody images with an air of mystery, timeless in their presentation. We derive a great satisfaction from our craft and itâ€™s not surprising that many photographers I speak to have been influenced by past artisans of the Monochrome and Sepia medium. We all need some form of muse from earlier photographic times to learn from and to be motivated by so that we can improve on our passionate obsession significantly. Hinton, my inspiration from the past was also my Great Uncle, married to my Great Aunt Louisa Jane Rolfe. So, maybe I have more than one reason to love his work!
Ian Rolfe can be contacted via hiswebsite at ian-rolfe-photography.com.au