Politics, as any Essex Graduate should know, is the ‘art of the possible’.
Photography is political.
Moreover, it is ideological.
When I lift my camera to my eye, I choose what to include and exclude. The act of framing is as much about what to leave out as what to leave in. When I underexpose to create areas of darkness in a low key shot, I do so deliberately and with intent.
My actions are purposeful, but to use Kant’s definition of art (purposeful without purpose) I am not creating art, I am making an ideological statement about my subject, and indeed myself.
I have long contended that photography is about ‘craft’, the articulation of knowledge and practice to a desired outcome, but that craft has semiotic meaning. We do not (should not), simply commit acts of photography without prior purpose. I would argue that all purpose is political in one sense or another.
Something as simple as a selfie, if kept, creates history. It locks the taker and to a lesser extent the viewer into a specific context, but a mutable one that can be revisited and rewritten to suit new interpretations of the act.
Most of my own photographs contain no people and or of landscapes. They are taken in the belief, fundamentally held, that only through knowledge and love of the world we live in is there any hope of protecting it.
When I photograph people I am not concerned with producing a ‘pretty’ portrait. These are driven by a different sort of politics. I seek rather, and oh so often fail, to produce an image that goes to the core of my personal ideology, one driven by conflict and what I still see as the inherent contradictions of our society.
So, Haji Mike; friend and comrade.
Not your stereotypical professor!