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Professional Contexts Blog

Robert Darch

The RPS were kind enough to give free tickets to students to attend online a talk by Robert Darch. I found the talk that he gave whilst I was in first year to be very insightful and he spoke very honestly about how he made his work and the processes, so I was eager to hear him talk about his new book; vale. He is a photographer whose work I keep up with, particularly for the quality of light in his very golden toned lighting.

An influence on his work was the stroke that he had aged 21 between the first and second year of his BA. He explained it as being similar to long covid in that the stroke itself put him in hospital for a few days but then there were also effects on his health afterwards. In the work, he uses young subjects who act as stand-ins of him, showing the time he missed in his 20s when he was ill. The fact that these subjects are regular people means that they are not acting for the camera which looks more natural.

He also spoke about how he came to do his masters, 10 years after his BA because Jem Southam was one of the lecturers whose work he looked up to. At the moment I do feel like I want to have a break from studying at the moment, but I think that if all goes well with career as a photographer and I feel like I want to be a bit more qualified, a few years down the line a masters may be relevant to me.

He is a great example of everything happening for a reason. If he did not find himself in the situation where he would have to move in with his parents, he would have never lived in Devon, met his partner, lived around the corner from Jem Southam, done his masters.

Devon as a place is central to his photography, it is the one element to his photographs that never changes.

He enjoys going to different places and looking, not necessarily with his camera. as well as things that don’t feel like a dream or feel real as I suppose the time he spent not well he was spending a lot of time in his own head. The work siting somewhere between fact and fiction, it is as if he is making his own storybook.

From covid, I also found that I am greatly inspired by the countryside that surrounds me, despite myself not actually taking landscapes, it is the place that heavily influences my work. Like Darch I love natural lighting and how great it can feel when you catch the sun at just the right moment. Because of these similarities, he is a photographer who I think I will follow for a long time.

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