The Forward that Brian McNeill wrote for our first photography book "Scotland's View

Forward

 

Photography’s a strange phenomenon. It was originally supposed to be reality’s answer to  painting, a way of representing the world that showed things as they were, without interference from those inconvenient irritants who had the cheek to call themselves artists. 

 Cut out the middle man, connect subject and viewer in a way that’s unambiguous and direct, get to that plain, unvarnished truth!  

 It wasn’t an idea that lasted long, however, because it quickly became obvious that the  photographer was just another one of these damn artists in disguise - and that truth had never had the slightest intention of being plain or unvarnished, thank you- it would stay just as elusive as it damn well pleased.

Whose truth, after all, are we talking about here? The photographer’s? The viewer’s? 

The photographer’s eye selects.

The viewer’s eye interprets.

Put the two together, and you end up with one of the most subtle art forms on the planet. It can lie, it can cheat, it can boast, seduce, disgust or captivate. it can foster pride, shame, nostalgia,  regret or hope. It can induce every mood from the wildest euphoria to the deepest despair. 

It is one of the best and most telling technical achievements of the modern world, a mechanical instant that can make a moment last forever.

 And lasting forever is what this book is all about. The images shown here are the product of a great eye, with an instinctive appreciation of what matters, a sure knowledge of what will touch in terms of form, symmetry and color. The quirky, the evocative, the plain poetic, all have their place here, presented with simplicity and honesty, because they need no more. 

The truth shown here is the photographer’s, but what selects it with such assurance is the knowledge that it’s worth sharing, that it has enough depth for any number of viewers to interpret in any number of ways.

A bunch of metal beer kegs as art... 

The image has stayed with me ever since I first saw it. Was the art built in? Was it some kind of test - waiting, tempting, a temporary secret of rough grace thrown together at the back of a pub in a damp alley? 

If it was, like almost everyone else, I’d have failed. I’d have walked on by and missed it. 

It took a master photographer to bring me to it.

 

Enjoy the book.

 

Brian McNeill