Growing up in London during the late 1940s and 50s, I witnessed the last decade of picture news magazines like Picture Post. Photography then seemed to be the medium of the moment, second only to cinema, able to reveal, isolate and communicate what mattered about the human condition in new and direct but still individual ways. It was a period when humane attitudes were still more central to public life. Working for magazines and publishers during the 1960s and 70s, I amassed many thousands of images taken all over England, while teaching later allowed me both the time and independence to work on personal projects as well as on editing this work into groups of images arranged to emphasise their personal significance to me, over 200 of which were published in the book "How We Are", published by Allen Lane The Penguin Press in 1971. I was then commissioned, along with the writer Dennis Marsden, to produce a book about unemployment entitled "Workless" and published by Penguin in 1975.
In 1979 I moved to Lincolnshire to take up a lecturing post and spent the next few years photographing the village into which I had settled and where I also continued to edit my early work into sequences that I now called 'narratives'. All of these unpublished little books were donated to the library at the University of Sussex, where they form part of an archive containing the core of all my work.
After taking early retirement from teaching in 1990, I worked on new projects, eventually in colour, the most recent of which involved spending much of 2010 & 11 photographing a farm near Boston at the invitation of its owner, Andrew Dennis. Woodlands is a 1700 acre mixed organic and biodynamic farm. It forms part of a farming enterprise which had been in the Dennis family for four generations. The farm became organic in the late 1990s when a market garden was set up to sell produce in local Farmer's Markets as well as offering a vegetable box scheme. Local breeds of Lincoln Red cattle and Lincoln Longwool sheep, Lincolnshire Buff and Black Rock chickens, various breeds of turkey and Curly Coat pigs were also introduced along with an ambitious programme of hedge and tree planting. The farm ran educational and cultural events, frequent open days and offered residencies for artists.
While looking for an appropriate way to show my photographs at the farm (and now on the web) I came across iMovie software on my computer and put together a film version of the work, to which I later added some of the village pictures, re-titled the piece 'in Lincolnshire' and asked Ralph Shilcock, a young musician actually from the neighbourhood, to add a guitar accompaniment. I then re-edited my earlier projects into a How We Are - revisited' film version including some of the 'Workless' pictures as a coda and was again pleased that Ralph agreed to provide the guitar accompaniment.
How We Are - revisited