Divine Symmetry - an interview with photographer Craig Thomas

I decided it was time to interview some photographers and find out what drives them to take pictures. Below my good friend, Vermont based photographer, Craig Thomas shares what inspires him. SONY DSC

What or who got you in to taking photographs and did you ever study it ?

I am self taught and got into it after a great catastrophe. I find it very healing. I had been used to working in groups and am very highly motivated, I find the solitude of photography much more appealing and it also makes me much more effective in my output.

What sparks your imagination and inspires you ?

I find classical arts very inspiring - my work seems to fit the music of Beethoven, Vivaldi, Bach et al. I am trying to achieve a similar 'epic' quality in my own work. I am also heavily influenced by the arcane arts. My research into divine symmetry has led me to the world of alchemy, hermetics, science and ancient cultures.

What projects are you working on now ?

Right now I am working on a book out here in Vermont, I have collected a large body of work on my three year journey. Now that i find myself in a new country with a new life it will be helpful for me to have a way to show people 'the best of'. I love displaying my work in print more than any other medium.

Film or digital ?

Digital for work as it makes life very easy and inexpensive but ultimately film is the master, nothing beats it.

What matters most to you, how a photo looks or how it how it makes you feel ? I was watching an interview with Nan Goldin the other day and she said, unsurprisingly, that when she was shooting it was all about how she felt. The composition and artistry was the second stage, when she got the negatives back. In a sense she gets in very close and then removes herself.

I have no attachment to the work i create itself, to me it's the innate nature of being a photographer - collecting flattened moments of a reality distilled through my own thoughts and feelings. If a photo gets stolen take a better shot. If I lost all my work somehow, shoot it all again. I find that my ability and perspective increases rapidly so i often go back an re-edit work.

As for actual shooting, it's all about the knowing and the trust that I'm letting the events infront of my camera unfold. Framing for me is important but there is also a moment in time that I'm looking to capture. That's the moment when my subject let's their guard down for that split second.

Can photography heal ?

For me photography has created the single greatest healing experience I have had, and continues to do so. I found that reviewing my work gives me a great sense of where I was at at the time of shooting. I then remember the story of the shoot itself, so as well as analysing my work I can also analyse myself at the same time. I find the more at peace I am with myself the better my work. These two things are congruent in creating focussed and strong work.

Finally, please complete this sentence 'I love taking photographs because.....

...it helps me answer questions in a way that nothing else can.

Picture This - Jocelyn Page 'Shadows Point East'

During my recent spell of ill health I assembled a portfolio of photographs, Still Life. I invited some high calibre poets to respond to these photographs for a project called Picture This. I have been overwhelmed by the beautiful work I have received. I also worked with photographer and film-maker, Craig Thomas, on a short film containing a selection of these images which you can enjoy below. I feel very lucky to know poet Jocelyn Page. I was overjoyed when she chose one of my more abstract photos to inspire her poem here. Her poetry quietly and confidently beckons me in, then wakes me up to seeing the world in a whole new light.

Jocelyn Page is an American poet living in South East London. Her pamphlet smithereens was published by the tall-lighthouse in 2010. She teaches at Goldsmiths College where she is working toward a PhD on the topics of inspiration and collaboration.

Shadows Point East By the time we get to camp and our unpacking, line setting horse staking, fast eating, fireside click-clacking is through - I finally get to the words, blazed in charred shadows in my head, by then the opposite of their brilliance, like the noon sun stamps itself in the deepest black on the backs of the eyes. So nothing I write tonight, dear, will come anywhere near the idea that I had, that I had to tell you this afternoon, out stalking the west.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9psPlFAEPFE&w=560&h=315]