Today we are pleased to share the work of Beth Galton. Her work was chosen as one of the 2019 Rfotofolio Selections.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I am a photo-based artist, with an educational background in the natural sciences and over 35 years of experience as a professional photographer in the editorial and commercial world.
Where did you get your photographic training?
I have a liberal arts degree in fine art in which I focused on photography from Hiram College, one of those small liberal art’s colleges where you are exposed to many disciplines. After graduation I was a bit lost, had various jobs and eventually found my way back to photography through assisting commercial photographers. I spent three years assisting and I learned the craft of photography.
Why do you create?
It is a way of expressing my feelings, my stories and my ideas about the world.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
In college I fell in love with Edward Weston, Emmit Gowen, Aaron Siskind and Aget to begin with. Once involved in the commercial world I discovered Irving Penn who told stories through his compositions. These resinated with me greatly and continue to influence my work.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
In college I saw Edward Weston’s pepper photograph. Through the years spent as a food photographer, it has remained an ever present image in my memory. I find when questioning my creative practice, I return to this image to re-center my work. It’s like an old friend who reminds me where I came from and what began my desire to photograph.
What image would you say taught you an important lesson?
André Kertész’s book, From My Window showed me important lessons about using still life as a way to express emotions and thoughts. I love that these images were shot with an SX 70 Polaroid camera and daylight- not a lot of technical equipment used to make such beautiful images. What I learned is that not much is really needed to create a photo (again I came from a world where everyone wanted the latest and greatest piece of equipment)- it’s about how to really see the objects and compose them in a way to express one’s thoughts. This series is so simply done yet so clearly and beautify expresses Kertész’s emotions about his life. I continue to go back and see more each time I look at the book.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
Spending time in my studio shooting. I set up a composition and take the day looking at it from all different perspectives, recompose it and look again. This is the joy of digital photography. It has allowed me to explore how best to convey my story or idea.
Please tell us about the work you submitted for the Rfotofolio Call.
In 2017, my mother and father,who had not lived together for 50 years by that time, died within three days of each other. After my sister and I inherited my mother’s home, we were startled to find the extent to which she had been hoarding. We discovered her journals, copious letters written to family members and never sent, everyday objects and photographs depicting many family scenes that I have no memory of. A profound sadness combined with these surprising discoveries led to my creating this body of work exploring feelings, memories and even buried memories – all brought to the surface through these revelations.
The images I submitted are the fruition of much exploration. My creative process begins with composing and photographing a still life of the botanicals together with the objects that I have collected and saved from my mother’s home. I then print out the image and create yet another still life by layering more objects with the print and then re-photograph this composition. There by giving a further sense of the complex and layered emotions found within family dynamics.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
How important is the photographic community to you?
Very, I am always looking at what people are creating, what they are trying to say and how they communicate their thoughts both through imagery and text. I’ve begun to go to photography reviews and have greatly enjoyed getting feedback about my work, meeting other photographers, and discussing everyone’s work along with exchanging ideas about photography.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
I love my camera stand, my 4 x 5 camera and my digital back. I’ve discovered daylight which after years of trying to recreate it using tungsten and strobes find it is my preferred way of lighting now.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
I am very interested in alternative processes and am looking at different processes that might fit my work and ideas.
Whats on the horizon?
At the moment, I am finishing up Memory of Absence and want to publish it as a book. I’ve begun to explore a few ideas to see if they might be my next series but it’s too soon to talk about them yet.
To learn more about the work of Beth Galton please visit her site atBeth Galton.