Walter Rothwell

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Website

Street photography International

What makes black and white photography so important to you?

It’s how I see, I react to light, shape and tone more than colour and have always found this exciting, it allows us, as photographers, to interpret our environment in a way that only we are seeing.

Secondly, I’m a film photographer and darkroom printer, the two halves become one creative process and the satisfaction of looking at a carefully crafted silver print is still special. Black and white photography requires thought, consideration and work, the negative is the foundation but must be built upon. The photographer must draw upon their skill and experience but, as the printer for some of the legendary photographers Gene Nocon stated, he only encountered a couple of negatives in his entire life that printed straight with no darkroom work, it’s often the final printing that brings the picture to life. That’s why I love the balance between the two processes, I see and take photographs with the knowledge of how I will finish it in the darkroom — when I look, I see prints.

What inspires you to create photographs?

Photography is a beautiful medium, it has the power to seduce and surprise, to make us think or simply smile. I try to create photographs with these considerations in mind, if you are going to present a photograph to the world it should have at least one of these factors. That is the role of the photographer, to pull a little bit extra from life, to recognise a moment of humour, poignancy or simple beauty and capture it, the power of photography is to communicate that moment for others to see and share. Great photography is timeless, it speaks across generations, my aim as a photographer, however remote, is to contribute to that legacy.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

Black and white grounds us to the origins of photography and beyond, drawing is the foundation of art and throughout history the majority has been rendered in black and white, the artist learned how to interpret light and shape into tone and create a new reflection of reality. As modern life and technology moves forward our world is becoming saturated with artificial colour, much of it designed to draw our eye and attention, black and white allows us to focus, escape the ephemeral and concentrate on what matters.

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