how it began

 

My unconventional initiation into photography would come to inform my practice. I was at the impressionable age of 12 when a neighbour invited me to watch the printing process for the first time. As I waited to be summoned into the darkroom I reached over and picked up a photo album laying on a table. My jaw dropped as I leafed through visceral abstracted images of contorted figures languishing in tropical foliage. A shimmering red disco ball eluded explanation. I was seduced by the Kodachrome palette of sanguine reds and emerald greens. These extraordinary images, simultaneously terrifyingly and beautiful, were the keepsake of a retired forensic photographer from a Carribean constabulary. The photographs were of gun shot, knife attack and bludgeoned brutality. The bodies were cadavers, the disco ball was the skull of a car crash victim encrusted with cubes of windscreen safety glass.

At once I understood that no topic was taboo and no subject sacrosanct. The photographer could ask any question and the lens could be trained in any direction. Conventions and boundaries could and must be examined.

Watching the alchemist turn a blank piece of paper into an image confirmed my calling. I picked up the camera and dropped school.