"As a kid in the UK, I really enjoyed landscape paintings in the museums and galleries. I particularly enjoyed John Constable’s portrayals of the English countryside and the exquisite detail of Canaletto," explains Australian fine art photographer Chris Round. It seems photography was a part of his world ever since he was a child. His photographic style and creative process have been developing over the years and the need to discover new places and beautiful sights are Chris's everlasting source of inspiration. In an interview for our magazine, he shares details about his ongoing series of photos called "Legend" and reveals what is his favorite camera to shoot with.
Hey Chris! Welcome to Lomography Magazine! When did you discover your desire to take up photography?
I became interested in photography after traveling halfway around the world from the UK to Australia. I started capturing the landscapes here with an old Pentax 35mm - I wish I knew more back then and had better equipment. It wasn’t until more recently that I made photography my primary focus after having a stint in the advertising industry.
What was the first camera you used at the beginning of your career? What, in your opinion, makes a good photo?
As mentioned above I was using an old Pentax 35mm initially, but when I began to take it more seriously I started using a Nikon F90 then digitally with a Canon 5D, before moving on to medium format film. Everyone sees the world with different eyes, so one person’s idea of what constitutes a great photo will be different to the next. Not only is photography so subjective but there are far greater minds than mine that can explain what makes a great photo, and far better examples than I can produce!
We can apply criteria like technical skill, composition, lighting etc. which are obviously very important, but it’s also important the image presents more than this - is it an interesting and engaging subject matter, does it connect with the viewer, what story does it tell? And then there are images that break all the perceived rules but have ‘something about them’ and connect in powerful and enduring ways.
Why did you start shooting landscape? What attracted you to this type of photography?
As a kid in the UK, I really enjoyed landscape paintings in the museums and galleries. I particularly enjoyed John Constable’s portrayals of the English countryside and the exquisite detail of Canaletto. I think this interest has been translated into my photography – I am simply drawn to the need to depict environments. I also enjoy the solitude of landscape photography - I have a busy life in Sydney and enjoy being on my own from time to time.
What is your all time favorite camera?
The one I use most - my trusty Pentax 67. Though that might change when I start using a 5x4 in the near future.
Can you tell us more about the creative process behind your work? What is it that inspires you to create?
My process has evolved over the years and varies from project to project. I used to just ‘go out and shoot’ without clarity of thought and, if I’m being critical of my work, that led to a lack of depth - I think I was just eager to go out and shoot! Nowadays I take the time to research a subject or idea before starting work. Sometimes it’s enough, to begin with, a thread of an idea and see how it evolves, and sometimes I need a clear structure to work with – though it’s always important to be prepared for things to change.
There’s also a lot of times when I try something new, but they don’t often make the cut. Discovering new places, finding new quirks in familiar places and the sheer desire to take pictures inspires me to create. Also, seeing great work by other artists inspires me to get out there and shoot.
In your opinion, what makes photography such a powerful medium?
Photography is a remarkable medium and there are so many different ways in which it can be used. You can capture the truth (or manipulate it), record history (or change it), record special moments, appropriate images, experiment and manipulate, invent new techniques (and play with old ones), tell compelling stories, imagine new stories and the list goes on. It’s such a varied medium with so many opportunities for artists to express themselves – I think that’s its great power.
Can we know more about your ongoing series of photos called "Legend"?
Legend is a series that draws direct comparisons between cartographic symbols, found in topographic maps, and the real-world features and points of interest they represent. These symbols are always presented with short statements (called a legend, or key) that explain their meaning to map users. What interested me was that without any explanatory statement the symbols lose their meaning and become purely abstract, with most of them bearing little or no resemblance to the features or landmarks they represent.
So I thought it would be interesting to remove the explanations and replace them with photographs of the landmark or feature – a photographic Legend if you like. The symbols and the photographs are essential ‘pictures’ of the same thing, so I’m making a direct comparison between the place and the uniform graphic language.
I first thought about this idea a few years ago and it remained in my thinking whenever I went on a trip so I could build up the series over time. I played around with how to present the idea but eventually decided to keep it as a simple side-by-side comparison, inviting the viewer to decode the meaning of the symbol through the photographs.
What does your day look like when you are not busy working on new projects?
My young kids keep me quite occupied – school runs, football training, everyday daily life etc! Work-wise I freelance in advertising and design, writing campaign ideas as well as brand ideas and tone of voice documents for a variety of clients – this helps fund my personal photographic projects.