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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

PETER EASTWAY – The New [Photography] Tradition

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A box in the mail

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A box came in the mail the other day and in the box was a book from the photographer Peter Eastway. I have known Peter for over 35 years and have followed his many and varied careers – as a photographer, editor and publisher, darkroom and digital Guru, AIPP advocate, photography commentator, judge, lecturer and mentor.

 

Our paths crossed many times as our interests, activities and creative pursuits were very similar. Over the years Peter published more than a few stories about my work as well as articles I wrote for his magazine Better Photography. Around 1990 Peter was invited to come on my Imagery Gallery Photo Tours to central Australia and Africa to enthuse and inspire the photographers on the tour.

When monochrome photography and the darkroom re-emerged in the 1980s as an exciting ‘new’ trend in the professional photography awards scene Peter became interested in my work. At the time my B&W photographs had on two occasions won the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards ‘Highest Scoring Print in Australia, one of them was a 10”x8” contact print. I had also won categories in the Australian Hasselblad Masters Awards.

Peter came to my darkroom in Toowoomba, witnessed my technique, and published a Better Photography story about my technique. One of the main aspects of my work at the time was my use of Leica 35mm cameras and a printmaking style that employed what I called ‘dramatic theatrical effect’ by utilising very heavy burning-in and local dodging.

From the ICONS series ….PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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Within a short time I found my entries in the AIPP Awards coming up against Peter’s prints and some of his images were even made on photo tours that he had undertaken for Imagery. One year he won the AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year – I was the runner-up. Since then my partner Victoria Cooper has referred to Peter as #1 and me, #2!

AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards with one of Peter’s Professional Photographer of the Year award winning photos of Africa on the cover

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Eastway photographing on tour in Bhutan PHOTO: Roger Skinner

 

When you get to know Peter you quickly understand his capacity for grasping ideas and knowledge, assimilating into his process and then to make images that are uniquely his own.

 

 

 

Back to the book… I turned the opening pages and read Peter’s introduction for ‘generational change’ in photography. He challenges those who have fixed ideas about emulating the great past masters like Adams and Weston and how digital photography has transformed the photographic image and the possibilities available to enhance the way the subject is presented. What follows in the book are very detailed reviews of the ‘making’ of Peter’s images over the years including his transition from analogue to digital. This book is a handbook on Peter’s process and also a manifesto where he claims the establishment of a ‘new tradition’ in photography.

 

Ephraums’ book cover

I turn a few more pages to the first photograph he discusses and dissects. To my surprise Peter acknowledges Eddie Ephraums‘ and my technique as having a significant influence on his B&W work. As I have already said Peter’s way is to grasp, master and go far beyond the initial inspiration. In this way he has come to lead a whole new representation of the lens-seen reality and created for the viewer images of the mystical and sublime. Whether it’s a landscape photograph, an ancient architectural form or a portrait Peter makes images that are seductive to behold, ponder and visually explore.

There is no doubt that he now inspires new a generation of photographers and created disciples and followers for whom this tome will be a ‘book of revelations’, a Bible for those whose wish to understand the eye, the process and the aesthetic of the photographer.

If there is a new tradition and Peter’s work will no doubt continue to influence photographers but his never-ending exploration of the visual world and how the idea of the human seen reality can be transformed through capture and rapture in processing will continue to advance the art of photography.

What interests me is that when I look back at the photographs I was making in the 1980s and 90s I didn’t think at the time about being a follower of a particular ‘tradition’. I just did, as I still do now, what seemed appropriate at the time. Perhaps Peter’s motivation is the same and the only ‘tradition’ that we follow is the constant renewal of the discipline by progressive practitioners…

Thank you Peter for a copy of your book … and for the opportunity to appreciate and consider your work.

 

Doug Spowart

May 20, 2019

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To read more and order Peter’s New Traditions Book –
CLICK THE LINK: Better Photography Online Shop New Traditions Book

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HERE’s SELECTION OF MY MONOCHROME WORK FROM THE LATE 1980s and EARLY 1990s …

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Images and text © Doug Spowart

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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2 Responses

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  1. I know nothing about traditions in photography, but I know that these monochrome images of yours are utterly sublime!

    Robert Ashdown

    June 6, 2019 at 10:44 pm


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