INTERVIEW: RORY GARFORTH IN BLACK AND WHITE

Man & Memory 2013 © Rory Garforth

Man & Memory 2013 © Rory Garforth

Rory Garforth is already well known and respected amongst his peers, whether it because of his astonishing landscapes or his portraits of local musicians. His images of places and people in Yorkshire turn the mundane into something magical. Until now though, Rory has never exhibited his photography.

Opening on Friday 17th July, Rory will hold his first exhibition on the Panorama at The Civic, Barnsley. David Sinclair is the curator of The Civic’s gallery spaces. He says, ‘I have been aware of Rory’s photographs for a while and totally appreciate how he captures the essence of both landscape and urban settings. His keen eye for detail and sensibility makes his images both interesting and compelling. Rory Garforth was born and raised in Barnsley and his photographs showcase the best of Yorkshire, Rory was asked to exhibit in our Panorama space to complement our artistic policy and objectives.’

Rory’s debut is one of a series of exhibition on The Panorama which showcase local talent. David continues, ‘One of the objectives of the Panorama space is to support and promote the work of local and regional artists and makers, and wherever possible to reflect issues prevalent in today’s society.’
I caught up with Rory to find out more about his photography.

What was your first camera?
My first camera was a Russian Zenit 11 SLR, bought for me by my parents and even back then, aged 11, I shot in black and white. I took the plunge with digital in 2008 but still enjoy film cameras very much!

What’s your set-up these days?
My set up these days is quite basic. I use a Nikon D800 with Nikon/Voigtlander lenses and only use primes (20mm / 35mm / 50mm / 58mm 90mm), mainly manual focus. I like using one focal length, it forces me to think about angles and perspective much more. I’m always physically moving to get the that shot I want. I’m not interested in staying in one place, zooming in and out! I also love how primes really isolate the subject and the benefits for low light work. I use various filters for landscapes, ND Filters for long exposure work.
For Street photography I love the Fuji X100 and the Leica M6. Both small, light, quiet and discrete. Perfect for ‘shooting from the hip’.

Your photographs work very much like paintings, whether it be your landscapes, portraits, or your fly-on-the-wall documentary style shots. Are you a photographer or an artist?
Hmmmm, Photographer or Artist? Off the top of my head I’d say photographer, but I am aware of the artist trying to get out, who is hopefully much more than a person with a big fancy gadget, snapping away!
I take the creative process of photography and in particular landscape and nature photography very seriously. For me its about finding inspiring places to create images and then the persistence to not settle for whatever conditions I may encounter during that first visit, but to continue going back again and again until conditions are perfect – generally for me, the crapper the weather, the better. Technical and artistic skill to capture this perfection in a creative way is maybe what makes you an artist. I want my images to have an impact on the viewer, to invite them in.
I’ve stuck with Black and White because I love the timeless, classic feel it gives. I also love the drama in a black & white image with its strong contrast and texture; something I’ve never really achieved in a colour image. I’m also colour blind, but that has nothing to do with it!

When do you decide not to take a camera with you?
I used to take a camera everywhere. When I want to really listen to a band or go for a walk, think and just enjoy the scenery, the camera sometimes stays at home. Often though, I’ll see something and kick myself.

Who or what has influenced your style (and by that I don’t mean your hair or shoes)?
My appreciation for skies comes from early trips to the coast in Yorkshire, and my love of mountains from hiking trips to Scotland and the Lake District. Photography wise, my earliest influences were Ansel Adams, Fay Goodwin and particularly Michael Kenna. I felt that his photography showed me what I really wanted to learn. Another is Bill Brandt, who really got me interested in street photography and whose dramatic landscapes of Skye first drew me to that location. I really admire the work of Susan Burnstine, she uses handmade cameras and lenses creating a really unique look. I love her book, Within Shadows.

What can we expect from the Civic show?
Around 16 black & white images in total! It’s a mixture of work from the past 3 years. Landscape and street. Choosing the images wasn’t an easy task! The landscapes were taken in Yorkshire, The Peak District, Lake District and Scotland. I wanted to keep the street images local, so all are from Barnsley and surrounding areas.

Do you have a favourite photograph you’ve taken?
I don’t really have a favorite, but I quite like ‘Man & Memory’, taken in Whitby in 2013. The old guy was so lost in thought looking out across the coastline. Eventually. when he realized I was taking his picture, he just smiled.

RORY GARFORTH @ THE PANORAMA, THE CIVIC, BARNSLEY
FRIDAY 18th JULY – FRIDAY 22nd AUGUST, FREE ADMISSION

Find out more about Rory Garforth and his photography over at the following links:
rorygarforth.com/
www.facebook.com/pages/Rory-Garforth-Photography/185686398146825

Sycamore Gap © Rory Garforth

Sycamore Gap © Rory Garforth

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