I am a fraud. That would be my ‘artist’s statement’. Because I’m not an artist – I don’t create art, I craft. I do it with passion, devotion, exploration, absorption, certainly with expression, perhaps with love. But I see no art in it. In fact, I see little art in any photography. Not compared to what I see, or feel when I stand in front of a Van Gogh. It might be me who’s at fault – my failure to see the art in photography, not the failure of photography to ever embody art.

I can see acute social observation and reflection in the photography of Martin Parr and Tony Ray Jones before him and I like the work of Gregory Crewdson, not pretty so it must be art. There are many photographers whose work I admire and aspire to, but I’m not sure it’s art.

I joined the Richmond Art Society because I wanted to exhibit. I’ve sold several prints from the browsers and a large block mounted prints of ‘Boys in the Mud’. Now, my photographic interests have moved away landscape to people. The camera is the best way to take a likeness, it can capture the fraction of a moment when someone switches between masks and fleetingly reveals themselves. Sorry painters, I know you think the length of time you spend with a subject in a sitting enables you to get to know them, and that’s rendered in the depiction on canvas. Or is it just boredom on their face? I’ll take a landscape painting over a landscape photograph any day – I never want to see a long exposure photograph of a waterfall ever again. The Richmond Art Society’s exhibitions always include so many beautiful landscape paintings, they make me want to paint, not photograph.

I bought my first camera in 1972. My newspaper round earned enough for one 36 exposure roll of slide film per month. I made every shot count. Looking back, I see a desire to photograph people, but a lack of confidence. Mostly, my pictures were what my mother called ‘views’. I photographed my children as they grew up and sometimes commented that I should have been a photographer. I had a career with the BBC, producing, writing and directing at different times, but when that ended I looked at my camera and saw a tool to make a living. Finally, I was able to photograph people, a subject endlessly varied and I find profoundly fascinating.

You can see more of my work on my website.

trevor aston

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