on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

End frame: Snowbird – Ritual Hieroglyph, Stanton Moor, 1977 by Thomas Joshua Cooper

Steve Barnett chooses one of his favourite images

Steve Barnett

Born Nottingham in 1956 and attended the Sheffield School of Art and Design from 1975 - 1978. It was sculpture I'd gone to study but was smitten with the darkrooms when I did my introductory course. I soon swapped departments to Photography, which was then under the inspirational tutelage of Roger Taylor and Ken Phillip. Subsequently I left with a B.A. in Communication Arts (Photography). Through contacts in the entirely different field of motorsport I gradually transitioned jobs from photography to manufacturing highly detailed handmade model cars for owners and collectors. Thirty years on and this is still my job but at every opportunity I'm out with my camera and tripod.

This photograph appears with the introduction to TJC’s book ‘Dreaming The Gokstadt’, (and if I wildly paraphrase) in which I think he describes the difference between elemental landscape that demands conventional immediacy, to catch a cloud, a ray of sun perhaps, against landscape outside of a conventional chronology of the moment, where the necessity is to gaze and absorb the landscape and to make a photograph to reflect this moment of contemplation.

At least that is what I get out of reading his introduction, that gazing is a way of seeing without expectations, and where composition and meaning are revealed by the place itself in gazing past the immediacy of the place.

‘Snowbird’ was made at Stanton Moor in Derbyshire, and I was there that very day as a student on a field trip organised while TJC was a visiting lecturer at Sheffield School of Art and Design, now Sheffield Hallam University. Just out of the minibus we students were trudging through the snow probably wondering how far we had to walk to get away from each other when I swear TJC let out an exclamation and encouraged everybody to ‘just move along’ while he set up his camera. To quell the general bemusement he had to show us all what he’d seen, and yes, it was ‘Snowbird’. So much for gazing and contemplation Tom, it was a photojournalists reaction to an event! But boy-oh-boy did it get me thinking about the landscape in a different way from that day to this.

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