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Endframe: Bogna Patrycja Altman

Jason Theaker discusses one of his favourite pictures

Jason Theaker

Jason is a landscape photographer, workshop leader, animation lecture, and the consistently pitiable member of the band, Elysian!


I will go at the end of the world with you, because with you my whole world looks like this....

When I was first asked to write this article, I misinterpreted the request to write about one of ‘your favourite images’. I set to work looking through my back catalogue realising just how difficult it was to choose ‘favourite’ image. The image had to represent so many different things about who I was, that I found it almost impossible to nail it down.

One image I considered represented my love of colour, one had subtle textures and one was highly personal as it was the front cover of my wife’s first book! How the hell could I narrow it down? At this point I decided to take some inspiration and actually look at the link I was given when asked to do the article, with the intention to see if (and how) other photographers had managed to narrow their thought processes down.

It suddenly confused the hell out of me, I wondered how Marc Elliott had researched Fay Godwin images and why was Paul Arthur’s name on one of David Ward’s images (a very fine choice it was too Paul). I admit it took me longer than I should probably admit here for the penny to drop, but I felt relieved and confused at the same time! Relieved that I didn’t have to choose colour, concept texture over composition, traditional over searching or commercial over personal, but how the hell was I going to narrow all my influences down into one image?


My history was unusual and my influences eclectic and pinning it on one photographer let alone one photograph was going to be near impossible! Why should this be so difficult? Others seem to find key photographers (and images) to admire so why not me? Of course I recognise that many photographers have clear inspirations from others they admire and this is not unusual or surprising.

Why shouldn’t we venerate and find inspiration in others that have perfected their craft. In fact, I have seen people justifying emulating others work as a learning process and if that works for them, then great, stand on the shoulders of giants and stride over those stepping stones of knowledge. Where I find it puzzling (and I’m going out on a slippy rock here) is when choosing one's inspiration becomes more of a finding the tripod holes and paying just that little bit too much homage.

I know from first-hand experience that this is a difficult journey to undertake and I often discuss this very issue with workshop participant and help them to find their own representation. Of course we all find inspiration in others work and synthesise ideas into something that represents ‘our’ take on an idea, but trying to imitate for superficial accolades has always seemed puzzling to me. Maybe this is why I was finding the task at hand so damned difficult.

I don’t have ‘favourite’ photographers, I have influences from things that move me. Francis Bacon, Turner, Waterhouse, Nick Cave, Henry Moore, Dalai Lama, Quay Brothers and Bob the Builder. They lay down a tangled web neural pathways and occasionally escape my subconscious into creative choices. So being asked to look for an image from another person and reflect upon why their work inspires me began to excite my desire to look into my own tangled depths.

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