The Collected Essays
More recent members of the club won’t have known and so cannot remember Sandy Wilson (pictured here) who died several years ago. Sandy had been a long-standing, indeed key, member of the club who in his many years’ membership garnered deep respect and affection for his winning combination of photographic and technical skill, his desire to guide and mentor his colleagues, his razor-sharp knowledge and understanding of the origins and history of photography, and his simple unreserved love of images and image-making. Sandy could talk with such insight about pioneers of photography and the techniques they invented as they broke ground with their work, about mid-century practitioners like Saul Leitner and his innovative vision of city environments, and about the way photography and photographers can teach us to look at the world and our relationship to it with a searching spiritual eye.
Sandy’s own photography, seen by us in competition entries and in his frequent club night “Timed Exposure” presentations exemplified his lifelong, hard-earned craft knowledge in equal measure to his strong visionary sense of the role of photography in shaping how we see and might better see the world. So we had remarkably skilful images of church interiors, richly textured and technically masterful, alongside sometimes abstract, always contemplative images of the everyday in nature and the built environment of the sort one of Sandy’s benchmark influences, the contemporary Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson, urges us to explore in a series of books and articles. Pictured here is only one of such occasions, with Sandy talking passionately and about his own work and its origins to our club members.
Sandy’s wisdom, his knowledge and engaging – and at times – wilfully provocative opinions delivered with a twinkle of eye, and simple desire to share his love for photography clearly, then, have their legacies in the hearts, minds and shutter fingers of those he influenced; and it is in part in further tribute to Sandy, after whom our annual Sandy Wilson Inspiration Award was named, that we share here just a few of the pieces Sandy wrote for the club. An anecdote from one club member to finish:
It was a beautiful sunset at Newlyn harbour in Cornwall with a lovely shimmer of sun lighting up the boats and sky. Several photographers, including me, had their cameras sitting firmly on tripods atop the harbour wall desperate to capture this fleeting beauty. However, it was just me who – rather than pointing the lens at the sea and sky – had his directed sharply to an aged, sea-rusted piece of harbour machinery on the harbour wall itself, no less splendid, attention-worthy, and spectral in its glow. When asked by one of the other guys, “Why are you doing that?” – the answer was immediate – “You don’t know him, but there’s a chap back in Andover called Sandy Wilson who….”
All of the essays start with an introduction which is the email Sandy sent to the club members with the essay.
Introduction text by Steve Davies.
Header photo by Gavin Fisher.
Remaining photos by Ken Denny.
All copyright © their respective authors.