The humble photograph

Written by our Creative Artworker, Tom Wilson. “Recently I had a conversation with a friend, over a pint, about photography. Been a keen amateur myself it’s always been a passion, starting off learning with a 35mm film Canon A1 in my early teens, moving up to a DSLR these days. He asked me who my favourite photographer is, without hesitation I told him; Terry Cryer.

Terry Cryer was a Leeds lad, born in 1934 in a working class household. He started his journey into photography aged fourteen mixing chemicals for a film processing company. The first time he shot photographs professionally was for the British Army, tool on a few years and he was given the opportunity to photograph Louis Armstrong, his first celebrity.

Over the years he went on to become one of the most influential Jazz and Blues photographers to date, photographing big names such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, as well as some big names outside of the Jazz and Blues scene including Sammy Davis Jr, Elizabeth Taylor and Steve McQueen.

I can quite honestly say I’ve never seen a shot of his that I’ve disliked. In the days before Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, this chap went out there with his myriad of cameras and relied on skill, lighting, timing and at times perhaps, a dash of good luck to capture some of the most emotive work I have ever seen. Personally I prefer reportage/candid as the approach to my shots and for me Terry was the king of this, but even his posed portraits give me a lump in my throat, the emotion is clear, the focus beautiful and the way he used shadows and highlights knocks me off of my seat whenever I go back to look at them.

Now, quitting my fanfare for Mr. Cryer I need to bring this back around to a business point-of-view! In a world where content is key, companies of the world over scramble to push video and animation out daily, if not hourly. Sometimes well planned, other times rushed, but always necessary. Either way it feels that the humble photograph is getting left behind.

See the thing is, a good range of shots can of course help a poster, brochure or social media post along somewhat, but one single, great shot can make an entire campaign. A single photograph is a powerful tool, it can instantly make you feel happy or sad, excited or scared, informed or mislead… inspired and/or motivated.

I’m not saying photography is by any means dead of course, but as the marketing world pushes along at such great speed, I fear the love and appreciation for those humble “stills” is slowly starting to ebb away…

In Conclusion

Don’t lose track of photography, although it’s now becoming an “older” technology it’s still just as relevant as the new kids on the block and when done properly, it won’t let you down.”

All credit for Terry Cryer’s photographs used in this post are attributed to the BBC.