David Crawford in conversation
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Enjoy following your passion, but keep it real when it comes to day to day fundamentals.
Why is it still necessary to make works of Art?
Of course the simple answer is, it isn't necessary to make art.
There are so many other distractions that warrant our attention that I think one of the core challenges is: can one remain focussed upon an activity long enough to maintain a reflective and critically informed approach?
In answer to the question "why is it still necessary to make Art?" I would say essentially its what Artists do, its part of personal identity.
In a world saturated with images what is it that compels people to take more photographs?
Thats a complex question and I could respond on many levels. I would say sometimes its simply about wanting to capture happy memories and images of loved ones, or even a beautiful environment.
For some it may be about aspiring for commercial success.
Perhaps its occasionally also about a latent quest for self validation - that one matters in an increasingly autonomous, overpopulated world - or maybe its about the human need for some form of immortality or social identity?
Is Photography a fine art or is it just a method of recording lived human experiences in the world?
Can you talk about your own approach to making images?
I could use words to describe my approach but I feel that pictorial images are symbols in their own right. As humans we were making cave paintings long before the production of the written word. I feel that verbal explanations can sometimes limit the appreciation of images. I often get asked where was the photograph taken, or who is the subject, as if by identifying a location or giving a name will somehow assist the viewer in interrogating the image?
I would say for me its more about been able to bear the "not knowing". If we start from our own position in front of an image perhaps we will eventually get more from the experience. I feel that often takes significant time however for meaning to form i.e. moving between the "experience of seeing" to the "experience of knowing" and I appreciate that can feel deeply frustrating. But again I suppose thats part of the process.
Who are your main influences?
I presume you mean my artistic influences?
There are a plethora of great works of Art that still carry deep emotional resonance for me. I regularly return to the works of Goya, Munch, Rothko and the artists of Der Blaue Reiter group for personal aesthetic inspiration.The photography of Don McCullin and James Nachtwey remind me of the human tragedy that is ever present in the world.
What camera gear do you use?
Canon for outdoor inclement weather shoots. Leica for everything else. The Canon 5d mark 3 and Leica Q are my main "go to" cameras at present.If I could choose just one camera to use it would be the Leica Monochrom (Typ 246) with a Leica 50mm Summilux-M F/1.4 ASPH lens.
What are your thoughts about smart phone photography?
The more people who get into photography via their phones, the more people will wish to improve the quality of their own images and thats always a good thing isn't it?
I hope that we can retain a degree of human perspective towards image making going forward, as technology is so good these days that there is a risk that algorithms will dominate our decision making choices unless we actively say no to auto at times.
What do you think are some of the main global issues for artists in the 21st century?
It is important to find some meaning in life. Whatever that is that gives you a sense of responsibility towards yourself and other sentient beings. Its also imperative to foster your relationship with others and live with a sense of considered urgency. Personally I'm not that optimistic - generally speaking - about human nature in the long term. 20th century history highlights we have come very close to annihilation through nuclear conflagration several times. I feel artists need to remind society of beauty and compassion through their work. As artistic forms of "panacea and antidote" as it were, to counter the other more destructive human traits.
Climate change, disease outbreak, technological acceleration, and conflict over finite global resources will probably be issues that shape most human activity including Art.