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A Trick of the Light - July 2019
Rob Farrands Interviewed by Richard O. Smith 

Like a lot of photographers, Rob Farrands has always been one. One of his very first paid jobs was being a smudger – a long gone photographic profession he decodes in our interview. Even when other responsibilities distracted him from his first love photography (being called to the Bar in 1974, and later setting up his own consulting company with his wife Bridget, could fairly be described as distractions), he acknowledges: “I became committed to photography early in my life.”

This perennial has once again re-flowered into his full-time profession. Indubitably, photography is the job he always craved. “Since then I have determinedly professionalised my commitment to photography by qualifying as a professional photographer through the British Institute of Professional Photography [BIPP], of which I am now an Associate,” confirms Rob.

Not that there haven’t been other interesting jobs/distractions along the route. Unlike most photographers and artists, Rob found himself in a position with a licence to print money. Literally, given he oversaw the introduction of the polymer substrate banknote when working for the Bank of Canada.

But you can be forgiven upon meeting Rob to conclude these were merely secondments from pursuing his consuming calling for photography. As he observes: “Photos demonstrate a commitment to a certain idea about the goal of a photographic image that arises from a basic orientation of life.”

“An image can open us to the world by creating a special way of experiencing a phenomenon – that is a place, a person or a thing, “ says Rob. “[My images] differ from photojournalism: aimed towards a fuller experience, even if that means undermining understandings and creating bewilderment.”

He encapsulates the philosophical essence of photography rather articulately for someone who admits preferring cameras to keyboards as a form of both truth-seeking and truth-delivering: “I believe that a photographic image can be a means of achieving both these things more directly than writing about them.”

There’s an undeniably painterly quality to some of his images – particularly the landscapes that take on board an almost ethereal quality in B&W. Elsewhere his works possess an expansive range in tone and subjects: some ponderously lugubrious, others knowingly witty and upbeat. Plus he’s not afraid to be daring: one recent exhibition was compiled of images deliberately shot straight into the sun.

“At the moment I look at my work and tell myself that I am seeking to create images that are monuments to the unusual as it bursts out of the usual,” clarifies Rob. “In my mind I have an idea of ‘artistic validation’ being the point where written explanations fall away like scaffolding from a building, because those viewing the images can see my vision without being told – in short the images will speak for themselves.”



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