Monday, 30 June 2008

The world from his front porch

In his latest book, THE WORLD FROM MY FRONT PORCH, Magnum photographer Larry Towell offers what amounts to a manifesto for a photography of the 'ordinary':

'I believe that photography has the power of redemption. It can take that which is ugly and make it beautiful, not by misrepresentation, but by stopping to look more deeply at the subject itself, and by striving to paraphrase the non-event. In this way, the ordinary becomes distinct, the way poetry transforms words. This handling of the ordinary is the life of photography itself. In this ordinariness, photography lives and breathes.'

The 'ordinary becomes distinct', note. Not 'art', or 'memorable', or the 'essence'. Just distinct. Typical Towell modesty.

In recent weeks I have been photographing in some Birmingham-based voluntary organisations, trying to capture ordinary everyday scenes of what they do, hoping to make 'the ordinary distinct'.