For many many years I have made hundreds of photographs which, whilst giving me enormous pleasure, have singularly failed to make me rich and famous.
I look at hundreds of photographs too and, increasingly, I find it difficult to find new and exciting work. We are so much in debt to the great masters of photography that there is little to be seen these days which does not have a reference to some particular style of subject which has already been developed and often, as in the case of the genius Robert Frank, moved on from, leaving his followers making honourable but familiar new work.
I’m in that category I think. My photographs have a style and choice of subject which is recognisable if you are familiar with the work of photographers I revere.
Well, I may have made a breakthrough here. These photographs were made about three years apart, one in western France and the other in northern Denmark. One is a death mask and the other is a camel. So far so obvious.
The thing is that the death mask is Napoleon’s mother and the camel is the very fellow Napoleon used at the beginning of the Egyptian campaign which, as soon as he was off its back was shot, stuffed and sent back home as a memento.
I know it’s a grand assertion but I truly believe I may be the only photographer on the planet to have made a collected series of photographs featuring Napoleon’s mother and his camel together and I claim this as a unique event in photographic history.