Artist in Focus: Chris Tuff
Hi Chris, what brought you to photography?
I was born into photography. My Father was a landscape photographer and Senior Lecturer in Photography so I can’t remember a time when it was not a part of my life.
What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
The rule of thirds or golden ratio is a good place to start, but essentially it is about leading the eye of the viewer, creating depth, using negative space.
What one thing did you wish you knew when you were starting out?
If I had known that my fine art photography would be so well received and believed in my own abilities as a photographer earlier I think I probably would not have taken a career diversion into film. Coming full circle and returning to my roots in stills photography has been a revelation and I am grateful to all the galleries, curators and magazine editors have been really encouraging and supportive of my work and of course to the people who have purchased my photographs.
Have you got a dream place you want to visit?
Far too many to list. Working as a film director I have shot in locations all over the World but the schedules rarely allowed time to take my own photographs so I would love to revisit some of those amazing places like Monument Valley.
Can you describe a typical working day for you?
There is no such thing really, one day I might be Producing or Directing a film, the next perhaps working on a commercial photography assignment or I could be scriptwriting. I like the diversity but when I am not doing those things to help pay the bills you will usually find me on a beach in Cornwall, where I live, doing what I love, taking photographs.
What do you want your viewer to experience?
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” Ansel Adams
For a photograph to be anything other than purely a record of a scene it must reveal or expose something about the subject, evoke a feeling, an emotion an atmosphere. For me landscape photography is about just that, revealing, evoking the spirit, or capturing the evanescent mood and moment of a place – its power, drama, beauty or whatever I happen to feel about it at that moment.
3 main influences?
It is difficult to limit it to just three because I have been influenced by the work of so many great photographers. Ansel Adams, Edward Weston who made a big impact on me early on but equally I love the minimalist photography of Hiroshi Sugimoto.
Do you think photography captures a truth?
In the sense that a photograph captures moment in time yes it can capture and reveal a truth. But from the instant the photographer places his or her eye against the viewfinder, rather than being a passive voyeur, the photographer is making a series of visual judgments and decisions. When, where and what to point the camera at, how much or little to include in the frame and the precise moment to fire the shutter. The camera does not see what the eye sees, it sees only what the camera sees.
This may seem very obvious but it is a fundamental fact of photography. This is because photography is a different way of seeing. Looking through a viewfinder is not the same as looking through our own eyes. The viewfinder frames our field of vision, the focal length of the lens limits or extends our field of view, dictating how much or how little we see and the framing focuses our attention. The discipline of seeing things through a lens is very different than just seeing.