Inside this issue
Benjamin Graham is a dedicated picture-taker, a devoted coast-hugger, a devout campervan-man, an early-bird, a thalassophile, a college toggery tutor, a group leader and the 11th UK Landscape Photographer of the Year.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
For most of us, restrictions on movement during the pandemic meant a pause in our photographic endeavours, at least as far as the getting out and about a bit was concerned. Daily fixes on social media have come from the back catalogue, but for a fortunate few it was possible to combine exercise with image making. Benjamin has been sharing a daily dose of backyard stills and videos on Twitter, reminding us just how beguiling the water’s edge can be. Certainly, once we were told we could go to visit a beauty spot, many seemed to head for the beach; I doubt they interrupted Benjamin much, as the ends of the day lengthened. So grab a cup of your favourite brew and settle somewhere comfortable, as he has plenty of images and thoughts to share with you.
What would you like to tell readers about yourself – where you grew up, your education and early interests, and what that led you to do? This sounds to have been quite an unsettled time for you.
Stuff about me? OK. I’m all in favour of getting the least interesting bit out the way first. If I may, I’ll avoid the boredom of the typical curriculum vitae style and expand on the relevant parts. As you’d expect from someone of my advancing years though, it’s a mixed bag of experiences.
Basically, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I was born. Actually, I was born on the south coast of the UK, in Portsmouth, which, to be fair (back then anyway) was pretty much the same thing as being born in a remote galaxy; it was another freakin’ dimension down there and no mistake. But now, after four decades absence from the south, involvement in several entrepreneurial business activities - with changeable degrees of success - in a couple of places that I’ve variously called home, both here and in the USA, I’m lately back in the ‘hood, in Felpham, West Sussex and I’ll probably be here until I snuff it, which could be at any minute, as it happens; it would not be any statistical surprise if I dropped dead in front of you right now. Don’t want to get prematurely maudlin or anything so early-on in the interview but, you know, just saying… I might not make it to the end.
Never mind all that, Benjamin, you artfully obscure yet fiendishly fascinating fellow, what happened in between going away and coming back as a tog I hear you ask? Well, in a nutshell: I’ve had a couple of kids, a couple of wives, a couple of businesses and a couple of heart attacks. Like I say a mixed bag. Go back a long-enough way and you’ll unearth a mashed-up, buried old jamboree bag of manky family/school-system psychological treasures comprised of the typical childhood issues of ordeal, abandonment and loss that arise out of a dysfunctional family and peripatetic schooling. I’m over it now, thanks for asking (and, you quite rightly exclaim, I should blimmin' well hope you’d be over it at your time of life… geez…) but, you know, it’s all in there somewhere and so it’s had a bearing over time… I’m not playing the victim card or anything so crass, on-trend or risible as that; quite the opposite in fact. I don’t want to get all hippyish about it but there’s a wisdom that comes from unpacking and making peace with trauma… well, with all pain and loss, truthfully, childhood or otherwise. They say if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger and, for years, polemic contrarian that I am, I disagreed, favouring: if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you cynical… but I’ve come around generally to the veracity of aphorisms (like you do) and, you know, if you can purge the cynicism, it does make you stronger. And better. And wiser. Shame it doesn’t make you more handsome… But you’re not cynical any more so that’s a bonus that makes you a bit more beautiful on the inside. Or so they tell me.