Passive framing

I’m done with the study now. As a way of coming to terms from the shift from late nights and odd hours, to a life with goals and paths….actually no this sentence is going nowhere. It’s not even interesting in the way that many of the dead ends and sharp lefts in life have been. Here’s a series of pieces about some of the more memorable aspects of the last couple of years.

A couple of years back now, I spent some months photographing at my local Menzshed, a place where people, mainly men and mainly retired men, can come together to use their skills and knowledge in a variety of ways. Community projects are worked on. Some meaning to days which could otherwise drift is found, also. I live a two minute walk from the shed, so often think of those pictures. Over time it has come to be that the images which come to mind are not the ones which I expected to remember. Instead of the portraits I took of the men who were at the shed when I was hanging around, it is the quieter moments, often with no one in the frame which I recall.

Perhaps there is a more immediate impact to the portraits, but it is another type of image which more fully describe the shed for me. I was thinking on this when I recently read an interview with the British photographer, Paul Graham. Graham talked about passive and active framing, and how active framing leaves less for the viewer to consider. My portrait images from the shed very much fall into this category. The exposures, inclusion of side lighting and/or doorways and windows tell the viewer what to think. Other images I made at the time, the ones which still have a place in my visual memory tell less, but suggest more. They are more similar to the passive frame which Graham spoke of. Below are examples of Paul Graham’s work from his series, New Europe, which he worked on between 1986-1992.

and here are some of the images I made in a similar spirit, if not to a similar standard.


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