People and Place

Friday, 2 March 2012

Tom Craig and A. A. Gill @ frontline
Twenty unseen photos by Tom Craig with accompanying text by A.A. Gill
Tom and Adrian have been working together for 8 years. Of particular interest to me is the collaboration between photographer and journalist that is a rarity now, yet not so long ago it was always the way documentary essays were done. Today papers, journals, magazines etc expect one person to write, take the photos be sound engineer and anything else that may be required. Tom and Adrian feel this is to the detriment of both crafts. Observing and listening to two people who are experts at their individual crafts, I agree with them. Their collaboration is not words about the pictures nor pictures to back up the words. Each of them has produced work that stands alone and when put together the work is stronger and more powerful.
I found it interesting that they both said they didn't go with any preconceived ideas about the work. They both wanted to arrive and be open to whatever was happening. They said if you go with a preconceived idea then you have already decided what the outcome is and therefore are likely to miss seeing and feeling a particular place at a particular time. Here are two people breaking all the rules and seems to go against everything we are taught about planning and designing the pictures and stories before a shoot. I do understand you need to know and understand the rules to break them and know why you are breaking them.
I think the outcome of their approach and collaboration is brilliant. Tom's images are really strong and complex. A single image tells a story in a way that another photographer may need several images to get the same impact. An example is his picture of the Albanian bathers

There is so much going on in this picture. Most of the men are seen from behind, there is no eye contact, yet this does not seem to matter or reduce the impact of the story. It makes you want to know more about these men. Is it men bonding? Where are the women? There is a sense of a leisurely life, the two men playing chess, the young boys diving of the pontoon. There are no chairs or picnic baskets. The cardboard boxes suggest they are not wealthy, their brown leathery skin indicates they spend a lot of time outdoors. I've spent ages looking at this image and each time I see something else.