artist spotlight – keith aggett

"Self Portrait" (c) Keith Aggett

“Self Portrait” (c) Keith Aggett

If you had to describe your overall photographic vision in 25 words or less, what words would you choose?

Surreal, still, power, a moment captured in time, movement paused in a dreamlike state yet strong and powerful enough to be noticed.

"Dignity II" (c) Keith Aggett

“Dignity II” (c) Keith Aggett

Why are you so drawn to long exposure photography?

It is the surprise in relation to the outcome on the camera screen once you release the shutter; it’s that surreal looking shot with all the motion captured in time. These images lend themselves so well to B&W processing, in which all the shadows, light and tones can truly be admired. I can’t express how much I love this type of photography.

Why do you prefer black and white photography?
Colour clouds my vision. I get distracted, lost in the shot. B&W just works, keeps me interested, makes my mind focus on the whole scene and absorb every part – life is B&W.

Who are three of your favourite photographers, and, more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?

(1) Michael Levin: Levin’s creation of a black and white image — his processing method — is second to none. He gives us compelling images with strong compositions and delivers a soft delicate fine art look that no one does better. I find myself walking that same road, putting my own touch of the Levin style into some of my seascapes– for example, creating the long exposed white water against the dark black surrounding rock and piers. I believe there is more influence from Levin in my work than any other artist.

"Cubes" (c) Keith Aggett

“Cubes” (c) Keith Aggett

(2) Michael Kenna: For me, Kenna is without a doubt the master of black and white. He is able to pull mood, power, and emotion into every piece of work he produces. I’ve studied his images countless times and found that his awareness of his surroundings is amazing, and he always manages to bring everything within the viewfinder together and relay his sense of passion to the viewer. After having studied his work, I find myself composing my shots very differently than I would have done a few years ago.  When standing behind the camera I take in as much from the scene as possible and check every inch of the frame in the viewfinder. I scan everything, making sure I’m not missing anything, re-composing and checking again in order to convey my sense of passion into that vision and hopefully, creating, an image with all the Kenna-attributes that I admire.

(3) I’d like to merge all my close contacts who shoot B&W long exposure images into one overall influence. I’ve made a number of friends and contacts over the years and much of the progress that I have made in my own photography is through the inspiration and comments I’ve received from them. I’m sure their influence will keep me pushing the barriers and improving my own work. Thank you to all of you.

What artistic influences, outside of photography, have had a significant influence on how you approach your photography (for example, painters, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc.)?

Photography is the only source that influences me.

"T" (c) Keith Aggett

“T” (c) Keith Aggett

What are your thoughts about trying to find the best gear possible versus working on making the best possible image with the gear you already have?

Without a doubt, we all need gear that will not let us down no matter what we put it through. Ninety percent of my images are produced where seawater and rocks surround me and the risk of damage is elevated. There’s definitely a need for a well made camera body and robust lenses, but they don’t necessarily have to be the most expensive. In fact, none of my equipment is the most expensive.  Reading reviews and information from other photographers about good equipment definitely pays off by helping you get the right gear to do the job.

How would you define fine art? Is it just a label?

I define it as: an ability to visualise and have a creative touch so that you can bring alive your imagination– which is lying dormant inside you, just waiting to be unleashed. You can’t label that.

If you had to come up with one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn, what would it be?

Do things for yourself and take in your surroundings and grow as you see and learn from your mistakes. This will hopefully make you stand out in the crowd and become a more successful photographer.

What are your thoughts about the benefits of online sharing? Are there any particular social media or image sharing sites you prefer or do not prefer?

"Jigsaw" (c) Keith Aggett

“Jigsaw” (c) Keith Aggett

The drive to share online yields multiple benefits such as: an exchange of views, the motivation to go out and keep producing work to share, and the inspiration that one can get from the many photographers who share their work within that community.

Flickr, without doubt, has been my main site for sharing my work over the last few years.  Flickr has a close knit community of B&W long exposure photograph, and I feel lucky enough to be within that group. I get to see some of the most amazing images and have made some wonderful friendships along the way.  Something I will never forget.

I have only recently opened a Facebook account, knowing that this hits every corner of the world. I want to share my passion for B&W photography with everyone, so I’m hoping this site will help with that.

What photographic cliché or common photography question, if any, irritates you the most?

I do get asked quite a few questions such as– what lens did you use, what time of day was it, how did you lose that horizon– but, to tell the truth, nothing irritates me, and I’m quite happy to answer anything anybody throws at me. At the end of the day, each person who asks questions like these is obviously interested in what has been achieved and must be inspired by what they’ve seen if they take the time to ask such questions. It’s a great motivator for me.

If you were stranded on an island, and you could have one camera, one lens, one filter, one tripod, two books, and ten CDs, what would they be and why?

"Motionless" (c) Keith Aggett

“Motionless” (c) Keith Aggett

My Canon 5D mk2, Canon 24-105L lens, B+W ND110 filter, and Manfrotto tripod will all work well enough for me. I don’t really read many books, but for an image buzz– Josef Hoflehner’s Unleashed 2 and Iceland— would be my choice.  As for CDs:

My music taste is quite varied. I would like to exchange the other 5 CDs for a CD player and a big bottle of Woods 100 … now that’s heaven.

Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?

The only thing that comes to mind is to have a book published, so hopefully that will happen sometime in the future.

Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos?
It’s got to be Iceland. Why? Checkout Josef Hoflehner‘s and Michel Rakjovic‘s work. After seeing it, I’m sure you’ll want to go … pure Icelandic B&W magic!

Is there anything else you wish to add?
Just a big thanks to you, Nathan, for giving me the chance to answer these questions and share my work. It’s very much appreciated.

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Explore more of  Keith’s photography: Website | Facebook | Flickr

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Spotlight on Three Images

"Chain Gang" (c) Keith Aggett I’m a big fan of minimal images, they tell a lot but show very little. With this image people who have seen this walkway would probably not view it quite like this, but also wouldn't dismiss that it could look this way – it tricks the mind and that’s what I like about it. Taken on a very high tide unfortunately there wasn’t any mist so as to lose the island at the end. An edit in photoshop with gradients to gently remove this unwanted part to increase the minimalist look and a B&W conversion with silver efex pro.

“Chain Gang” (c) Keith Aggett
I’m a big fan of minimal images because they tell a lot even though they show very little. With this image, while those who have seen this walkway would probably not view it quite like this, they also wouldn’t dismiss that it could look this way; it tricks the mind and that’s what I like about it. Taken on a very high tide unfortunately, there wasn’t any mist to shroud to lose the island at the end.  I used the gradients in Photoshop to gently remove this unwanted part so that I could increase the minimalist look– and then Silver Efex Pro for the B&W conversion.

"Shoreline" (c) Keith Aggett I love the patterns the coast gives us at different tide intervals so I’m always on the lookout for something a little special. This shot just jumped out at me, I love the curve as the sea was racing in to engulf the beach and the clouds and light played a superb part in making a surreal looking image. This really does have power and I like that! Converted to B&W in silver efex and using the control points to lighten and darken certain parts of the image.

“Shoreline” (c) Keith Aggett
I love the patterns the coast gives us at different tide intervals, so I’m always on the lookout for something a little special. This shot just jumped out at me.  I loved the curve as the sea was racing in to engulf the beach while the clouds and light played their part in making a surreal looking image. This really does have power and I like that!  I converted the Raw file to B&W with Silver Efex Pro, using the control points to lighten and darken certain parts of the image.

""Drowned Souls" (c) Keith Aggett I chose this shot as I’m not overly keen on dark foreboding images but this wouldn’t have worked any other way. I can remember when reviewing the camera screen that my usual processing method wouldn’t capture the overpowering presence of the trees drowning - this image has helped push me towards the darker tones and increase my photographic vision. Again, as with all my images converted to B&W with silver efex pro, contrast tweaked and control points added to increase the light between the trees, also a slight tone added.

“”Drowned Souls” (c) Keith Aggett
I chose this shot because I’m not overly keen on dark foreboding images, but this wouldn’t have worked any other way. I can remember when reviewing the camera screen that my usual processing method wouldn’t capture the overpowering presence of the trees drowning.  This image has helped push me towards the darker tones and increase my photographic vision. Again, as with all my images converted to B&W, I used Silver Efex Pro (tweaking the contrasts by using the control points to increase the light between the trees and then adding a slight tone).

A Few More Images

"Phone Booth" (c) Keith Aggett"In Chains" (c) Keith Aggett"Pieces" (c) Keith Aggett"Solid" (c) Keith Aggett"Cubes" (c) Keith Aggett"Twisted" (c) Keith Aggett"Into the Void" (c) Keith Aggett"Here I Stand" (c) Keith Aggett"Black and Light" (c) Keith Aggett"Reflection" (c) Keith Aggett"Slither" (c) Keith Aggett"The Otherside" (c) Keith Aggett

All images on this page– unless otherwise noted– are protected by copyright and may not be used  for any purpose without Keith Aggett‘s permission.
The text on this page is protected by copyright and may not be used for any purpose without Keith Aggett or Nathan Wirth‘s permission.

One Comment

  1. Richard July 4, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I have followed Keith’s work for several years and must say that his work is right there with the best
    black and white photographers of the present day. His creations are accomplished, intriguing, and
    memorable. My background is medical so I have only been shooting for approximately 9 years
    since retirement. So for someone of Keith’s stature to take the time and comment on my images
    via flickr, and I humbled and most appreciative. Great Interview……Be well.

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