photography by Paul Hardy Carter

Subject Matter

I find the magnetic pull of the event, the special situation, to be almost overpowering at times. In fact, I’m not so interested in taking pictures of unusual events – it’s the usual that holds the most fascination for me. Everyday life. The trouble is I find people often take exception to having their everyday lives photographed – and they are perfectly within their rights so to do – whereas they are quite happy to have themselves pictured at some kind of event, like a parade or a festival, or something newsworthy, which makes a photographer’s life a lot easier.

Some photographers try to hide what they’re doing so as to keep their subject unaware that their likeness is being captured. I find something vaguely wrong about this practice, since I believe anyone should have the opportunity to say they don’t want their picture taken, and a photographer should respect such a desire. Since I do not have the option of re-composing a picture in the darkroom I have to hold the camera in front of my face to compose in the viewfinder – and that makes it pretty obvious that I’m taking a picture, and what or who I’m taking a picture of. There have been people who would have made wonderful subjects but when they indicate they don’t want to be in the frame, that’s an end to it.

Speaking of newsworthy events, I should point out that I am not a photojournalist. I am one of several photographers whose work can be described as journalistic, but not journalism. In my case the manner in which I work, no cropping and so on, would make the use of my pictures very difficult for periodicals – not to mention the fact that, due to only carrying one lens, I have to let many opportunities pass me by. Opportunities which would have made good pictures if I had a telephoto or a wide-angle. That is my choice.

I use the term journalistic because there is something of the ‘journal’ about my work. I generally photograph people and things I find interesting as I go about my life, without necessarily looking for a story. But I’ve noticed that stories tend to develop over a period of time, and often over a long distance as well. Individual pictures that I’ve taken seem to be associated with others taken at different times, in quite different places.

Of course there are times when I find a subject so compelling that I focus on it for a while and it makes a story in itself, and I hope to explore these subjects in future books.