Inside this issue
Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.
This article is meant as a brief introduction to a photographer who gets very little attention this side of the Atlantic. We will hopefully be interviewing Carr in the next month or so and will write a longer article then.
Carr Clifton is a hard working photographer who has done as much for the environment as any other photographer but has probably done as little shouting about it as well. Hence we don't get to hear about his work as much as Galen Rowell, Philip Hyde, et al. However, despite my first impressions seeing a couple of poorly reproduced mini-books, I have grown to really admire him as a photographer and quite recently to realise he is one of the real greats who should be a lot better known that he is (apologies to Carr if he is well known in the US, I'm writing this from a British/European perspective).
I've included a few photographs in this article and also a short book review of my favourite of his works, California.
Carr Clifton has been photographing the landscape for over thirty years and in that time has produced five exhibit format books, including my personal favourite, ‘California’. He has also been a continuous advocate for the conservation movement. Although he was reliant on the stock photography industry for many years, this didn’t stop him creating some highly original and beautiful work (probably overlooked by most editors, sadly).
He has mentioned on a few occasions that he is more at home with the mid range or close up landscape but it seems that the years of producing grand vistas for stock and editorial use has typecast him somewhat. In reality, I can see a huge influence of Eliot Porter in his work and it bears a resemblance to Peter Dombrovskis’ considered landscape work in his ability to create superb shots in ‘uncomplimentary’ lighting conditions.
Clifton was influenced by his Californian neighbour Philip Hyde (another under-rated landscape photographer) who helped convince him that landscape photography was a potential career move.
His first book "California, The Magnificent Wilderness" is one of my favourites and includes consistently powerful photography in all conditions and light. Yes, it is an old book and the reproduction is at times lacking but in the majority the Ektachrome and Fujichrome transparencies have reproduced well. It also has one of my all time favourite pictures of Mono Lake, seen very differently with grasses blowing in the foreground, glinted by early evening light.
In the book's preface, he says "Too often we ignore or overlook information that doesn't fit in with out practised thought. So, too, in photography, the temptation is to frame again and again what we've already grown accustomed to see, rather than make ourselves available to expose on film whatever is revealed by wild nature". What a wonderful quote. Definitely worth buying if possible.
Take a look at Carr Clifton's own website and a couple of other biographies and articles I found whilst researching this.