The Magic Boat

The Magic Boat, UK 2008
As the mornings become cooler and we move into my favorite time of year I am reminded of those frosty mornings growing up in Cumbria. The above image became part of The Flowery Room (was going to be called The Magic Boat) series based around my childhood memories. I would walk past this boat on my way to school and couldn't believe it was still there after all those years.


I remember staying at my Grannies house in Scotland eating Nips and Tatties (Turnip and Potato) before going for a walk with my AV1 Canon Camera. I was 14 years old and didn't have a care in the world. After an hour or more I ended up walking along the Solway Coast. As the sky began to bruise and as I made an image of an old boat and it's remains. I would later process the film in the cupboard under the stairs and print the image in my bedroom. After many prints and efforts to hold back the foreground and 'burn in' the sky I managed to get a good print which was later framed and hung above my Grannies fire place for many years.. After her passing at 102 the picture was stored away, but rediscovered some time later by my Mother.  Now it hangs above her fireplace, hopefully for many more years to come.

Solway Coast, Scotland. 1987


 I found this while rummaging through some old emails. It was written in 2008 to a fellow blogger in the days when I used to write more about other photographers as apposed to just showcasing myself.. 
Anyways I thought I would post it's just as relevant today.  

 I follow your blog often and enjoy your writing. I was compelled to write after reading your piece 'On Doubt ' regarding the work on Sally Mann. I have often thought that many photographers and artists have a period in their career when they produce their finest body of work. Usually this is the work that happens to bring them notoriety be it Joel Meyerowitz's Cape Light, Misrach's Desert Cantos, Robert Frank's The Americans so on and so forth. With regards to Sally Mann, I could not agree with you more and feel that her new work is thin and weak in comparison to her earlier work. I really do feel this is the case with so many photographers and always wonder if they actually know if their work is not as 'good '  as it used to be. I have debated this theory many times and often end in saying;

 "How can the work be as fresh and dynamic as it used to be. A photographer may not have the energy, the freedom, the ideas, or as clear a vision as they had when they where younger and commitments tend to take over and life gets in the way..."

This is of course only my opinion and I have yet to make it fully public but I do think its a theory worth thinking about..

M. Doyle


When I moved to America the first thing I did was buy an old van big enough to sleep in and hit the open road. It was a wonderful experience filled with all kinds of adventure and I managed to spend the next three years living what had always been a dream of mine. I was a landscape photographer with a big camera shooting big landscapes. Much has changed since those early days; My camera is a fraction of the size, I don't sleep in my car (also a fraction of the size), and I don't spend as much time on the road, foot loose and fancy free as I used to. But despite all these changes, the one thing that remains is the notion that one can get in a car and connect with the landscape. It is the one thing that brought me here and probably the one thing that will keep me here..


Limitation Triggers Creativity (It really does..)

 Sky Forest. Lake Arrowhead. 2019
Its been many bright Moons since I last used a tripod and a big camera having opted for a small 35mm for the last eighteen months. Stepping away from the confines of 'the big camera ' has been a refreshing change and I am reminded of a time when I had nothing more than a cheap 35mm Canon AV1 and a roll of black and white film. As I am now doing a small black and white photography class with my students its nice to be reminded of how it all started, and the simple pleasures of simple photography.

I love working up to the limitations of a camera and have always given myself limitations, be it a single prime lens, format size, or just limited equipment.
One fundamental change over the years has been the leap in pixel size regarding digital cameras meaning you can carry around a very small camera along with a 50 MP sensor (more than most would ever need). Add to this the many medium format cameras that now far exceed the sharpness and detail retained that a 8/10 view camera could ever achieve and at a fraction of the size and weight.

And so with all this in mind I would like to think that camera technology need go no further and that the plateau has been reached so that we can all go out and be creative. But of course it won't. The pixels and sensor size will continue to grow as cameras become faster and lighter, until like film, they will cease to exist...


9 Days. Oranges 2019



 Stairwell. The Louvre. 1998

As I have a new batch of students this week for a fine art course I am teaching I thought I better dig out some of the old stuff from a time when Black and White was my forte. 
Always nice to look back at my monochrome memoirs, but often a problem trying to remember the when and where. Of course at the time of making a photograph you never think you will forget such details..



Number 1. Lake Arrowhead. 2019

Whether I like it or not, the influences of American photographers working in early color is still with me. The likes of Eggleston, Shore, Meyerowitz, Misrach may be somewhat of a mystery to today's young and upcoming photographers but these guys carved the way.
Be it large format digital, or an Instagram image made with an iphone, the imagery and ways of seeing today is nothing new. Having said that, I am pretty sure that one day someone will come up with a most simple photographic idea no ones really thought of. They will become a pioneer carving a new path in this over-saturated market, stunning the photo-world like the color landscapes and images of the everyday mundane did in the 70's.
You never know, we might look back on that book of selfies and think it was all tantamount to genius.  But lets not get carried away..


Dungeness. UK 2008/9
I found this little gem tucked away and forgotten on some dusty hard drive. Thinking back it formed part of my By Coastal series made along the British Coastline back in 2008/9. For some reason it didn't make the cut. but perhaps it should of..


When Pin-Sharp just wont do...

My oh My how photography has changed over the years. When I first started larking about with a camera all you needed was a roll of black and white film, a 35mm camera, one lens, and a small dark room, and all for the cost of a weekend in Paris. But these days if you were to believe the hype, that weekend in Paris is more like three weeks at the Hotel Ritz (Paris). There's your fancy camera, a fancy computer, and then of course your fancy software. Of course you could just ditch all that and buy and iPhone instead.. (Ha Ha).
I was recently reading about 'Image Stacking'. Something I realize has been around a while only after having got to grips with the idea of 'Image Stitching. ' Basically the stacking idea is a program is used where lots, and lots, of images are made of the same thing but with each frame there is a tiny change in focus. Then you put them all together and whala. The sharpest image in the world..
Upon seeing such images I am amazed to the point of asking myself, Is this really a photograph? And then I have to ask myself, Is it really worth it? And then have to asked myself,  Am I prepared to waffle on and on trying to make a point? Well no I am not..
I like the 'one take ' method;  I came, I saw, I shot... But that's just me..


Warming up..

As the weather warms up so must I with a few night shots. Its been a fair old while since I counted the Elephants (1 Elephant, 2 Elephant and so on) so a little bit of practice in the garden first..
The lower image reminds me of an William Eggleston image, you know, the one with the light bulb and the red ceiling...


Having never been back to the UK now for a few years I can only watch the joys unfold as the country is thrust back into the dark ages over night. Here in California we are told to stockpile enough food and water for three days in case of a big earthquake, and also have a packed bag ready in case of fire and evacuation. Both of which are very real threats.
My parents have taken their own steps growing an abundance of vegetables in their garden. My father has also brewed a large barrel of Beer and put a few candles in a box.  
I hate what the media can plant in peoples minds and would often witness the effects certain news stories would have on my family growing up in a small Northern town. My only wish now is that I had photographed these moments...


A simple forgotten image taken on the road home from Death Valley.


The Archive

Websites are a funny thing. Too much, too little. Its sometimes hard to know. But from past experience people always want to see more. Yes, we can leave people feeling hungry, but sometimes its good to have an area where all those past images can reside and dipped into over a cup of coffee. And so with that in mind I present, The Archive; A carefully selected jumble of images from plastic cups to frozen Pine trees.  Hopefully there is something for everyone. after all its only taken two decades to produce...




A few years ago after I finished my Virtual Water series I started another project along the LA River. The details regarding the project are on here somewhere! Anyway,  at the time the images just did not do anything for me and they were cast aside like a stale biscuit.
During a website revamp (soon to come) I have been going through the images again and guess what, now I really like them. Its not the first time this has happened, and its something I have read about countless times in journals and old books where the artist puts the work away somewhere only to return sometime later and seeing the work with a fresh perspective. .
So I have put a few on here and will get busy editing and making use of my old-new work...


Snow Birds...

Snow Birds. Thursdays by The Sea. 2004-

I was looking for a large print to put in my bedroom, as you do, and came across this image I had not seen my Thursdays by The Sea exhibition in London back in 2009. It was well wrapped and survived my overseas move. I thought the title Snow Birds was quite fitting. Here's the definition;

"Snowbird" is a North American term for a person who migrates from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada in the southward direction in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean. Although snowbirds used to be associated with retired or older persons, snowbirds increasingly are of all ages. Many residents in the colder areas of the USA and Canada vacation in warmer southern locations to escape winter weather.  

OK, I'm not from North America, so the North of England will have to do. I remember the morning I made the image; I had spent the night trying to sleep in my camper van which was almost impossible at 120 degrees. The image was made around 4.00am and became one of the first images in the series. 
The building itself is actually shower units, just what you need to cool off for a few minutes before sunrise..


The lost image.

Keeler. Death Valley 2012

While going through some of my archive I was reminded of how many projects I have done that may otherwise never see the light of day again. To mention but a few, there was droughts with a lot of dried up lakes and rivers, random chairs, dumped cars, coastal views, city borders, childhood memories, lots of car parks, random still inanimate objects, human skulls and ghosts. 
I am not really sure if its easier or more difficult to keep track of images these days. I still have boxes of archive negatives that may never be printed or scanned, but then again there are all those RAW images laying dormant on a hard drive...

The above image reminded me of a Stephen Shore image which I had completely forgotten about..


We are the Night.

 Two Mirrors. Switzerland 2002
A very fine student I have been tutoring a little produced an excellent array of night images I had the pleasure to view in print form. The prints were many and simply stuck on a wall, some were big and some were small. A discussion developed with several other tutors a little concerned at the sheer volume of work and the lack of direction; Why so many prints, why are they not at eye level, why are there different sizes,  and all that jazz. But what I seen was very different. What I seen was the beginning of my Night Vision series. Images made with no formal direction, just an instinctual need to make long exposures.

Anyone who has made long exposures at night will be aware of just how addictive it can be and as I have mentioned here before the longer you spend on an image (my theory) the longer you look at it afterwards and there is a connection to the photograph you just don't get with a 'snap'.

It was a delight to walk into a room full of night time color which took me right back to my first show in Paris; Night Vision, Intimacies of an Unblinking Eye back in 2003.


Happy 4th July.

Somewhere around the Salton Sea 2015

It always feels a bit weird being in America on the day they celebrate independence from the British..
I only wish the V.W Beetle in the above image was an old Mini.


Whats this about then?

Hastings Pier. October 2010. 

As with many of my kind there is a certain fascination with photographing the ruined, dead, decaying, half destroyed landscape. Truth be told I am still not sure why it holds so much visual appeal. Maybe somewhere deep inside my subconscious there are hidden reasons waiting to get out, or may be it just looks different, and therefore interesting. But more often than not I will convince myself that it is a small historic moment that needs to be recorded. 

Malibu. November 2018

My work has always walked the fine line between documentary and fine art in that I want to document a scene, but I also want to make it visually appealing and in doing so may expand the truth a little through increased saturation, and image enhancement. However, Disaster Porn as it has become known (a crude and horrid term) is not something I wish to be associated with. 
Very often whatever drives a photographer to make images  cannot simply be explained. Photographers will often pour out all kinds of spiel in an attempt to explain and justify their work and what moved them to make an image, but more often than not its instinctual.

A mentor of mine (and I have probably mentioned it on here countless times) once told me that,
 'A photograph should always ask a question.' But that's not to say it should always give an answer.. 


Outskirts of London some time ago with a 10/8" camera.

The nights of lugging a 10/8" view camera through cold wet grass are behind me now. But I often miss those twilight's of purpose when I felt I was the only one out with a camera. 
Mention Night Photography to someone today and more often than not they will think of one of those 'Milky Way' shots where the ISO on there digital camera is turned right up picking up every detail imaginable. Amazing at first, but now everyone's at it because its easy and effective. Its a little bit like one of those long exposures of a waterfall.
As I cannot bring myself to post either a Milky Way image, or a waterfall, or a combination of the two, I will have to make do with these humble offerings...


Is that you Dawn..

Pep Boys. Hollywood. 2019

Sometimes the dawn light can be just as magical as twilight although there is a sense of working backwards as exposures get shoter rather than longer..
The Vehicular Landscape series continues..


Sleepy Nights.

Cathedral City, CA 2019

Still getting use to the speed in which a digital sensor can record over film. A shot like the one above would of been around 2 minutes on film. With digital it was 2 seconds..
The nights have gone when I would leave the camera exposing and walk around imagining the final image framed and on a wall somewhere, or I might of even had a short nap.


Three Palms. 2019

 Another random image from my 9 DAYS series.



Towels. Ojai. Ca 2018

Truth be told I have been plugging away at a project for the last twelve months. But unlike unloading the big camera and setting up the tripod, this one has been a little different, shot entirely on a small discreet Leica and with the aperture set wide open on a fixed 28mm lens.
As a photographer who has always worked purposefully within boundaries this has been quite the departure for me, but very fulfilling all the same. Although I have limited myself to hand holding and a fixed aperture and exposure (like a snapshot), so you could say I still have limits. 
All will be revealed once the project is done, but for now I will pop up a few images along the way. The project is called 9 DAYS. 


The Inbetween.

Covered Car. Palm Springs 2019.

Tooting around Palm Springs I finally got to make some images during a classic 'Doyle Blue' evening. For me nothing beats the twilight hour before the sky turns black and you find yourself in The Inbetween..

FYI, I'm still flogging the Doyle Blue (the colour of Twilight) and will continue to do so until people quote it to their children at bedtime.


Drive By Shootings..

I've been doing these 'Drive By's' for a while now. Basically I don't get out of the car which may seem shocking, but I am at the right angle and avoid drawing any attention to myself.
What may at first seem like just snapshots of cars there really is a lot more to it. Like my Vehicular Landscape series, its all about how the motor car connects us to the landscape and often becomes part of it.
Within a 'mini' project like this there are often themes, like cars that are covered..


20 years of The Salton Sea..

The first time I visited The Salton Sea was was a hot July in 1999. Back then areas around The Salton such as Bombay Beach were a close guarded secret by photographers in a time before the internet could tell you how to get anywhere on the face of the planet.
I remember pulling up to the lakes shores for the first time as the putrid smelling air filled the car and the thermometer read 121 degrees. 
A scene which can only be described as apocalyptic filled me with excitement as I had found the place I had always waned to go since the day I seen Richard Misrach's images taken there in the late 80's.
Stepping out of the car was like walking fully clothed into a sauna and within minutes everything was saturated with sweat. Setting up the camera close to the shore of the lake I returned to the car and the relief of the AC and waited for the light. I will never forget the transformation that occurred when the sky turned to peach and the entire place began to glow...
I made only two images that day but knew I would be back. 

Poles. Bombay Beach July 1999 

And so 20 years later (almost) I headed once again to Bombay Beach, The Salton Sea.
Perhaps I should of waited until July and made it a proper anniversary event, but the thought of sweaty pants did not really inspire me. Instead a cool 95 degrees made the place feel quite normal. 
I should point out that I have been going to The Beach on and off for all these years (My Thursdays By The Sea project), but it had still been a long while...  

 Swing. Bombay Beach. May 2019.

So much has changed in since I first got a whiff of the Salton. The lake itself is shrinking and many of the buildings and really interesting things  have all but gone, but it still gets the creative juices flowing..
And so I made an image (above) I was relatively happy with (that will do it) and headed back to my car. Imagine my surprise when there in my path stood a cloaked figure (someone stood under a dark cloth) behind a large 8/10" view camera. Now most people would find this most odd in a digital age, but not me, I was just a little annoyed they appeared to be making a photograph of the same subject matter I had just recorded... But my days of the jealous raging photographer are behind me now and as I approached I gave my opponent a cheery,

 "Hello There." 

The plagiarist removed the dark cloth from his sweaty bald head and said in a broad Northern English accent;

"I've been wanting to come here for for years. It's just amazing."

"Indeed it is." I replied. 

And then a response I would never of dreamed of;

"I seen an exhibition a few years ago in London and had been wanting to visit ever since. Basically the guy came here every Thursday (it was a Thursday) for a whole year. "

That's right, he was taking about my own show, Thursdays By The Sea. I could of wept and hid the tears in my sweaty face, but no..

"Sounds like it was a good one." I replied.

And with that I walked back to my car thinking of the time I first visited The Salton Sea with a large 10/8" camera..


Rob Ball..

The Boating Pool, Ramsgate, 2010. (c) Rob Ball.

I still read the local news from the homeland everyday and was delighted to see a piece in The Guardian Newspaper on my fellow Photography Avenger Rob Ball. 
I met Rob several years ago when he invited me to do a visiting lecture which then led on to a a small working relationship where I visited Canterbury a few times a week giving tutorials and to students along with some photographic inspiration (I think).
Rob is a tour de force and one of those photographers that looks at what is around him rather than wishing he was somewhere else. 
He has also just released a new book on the British Coast and its sea side towns, a subject I love and have dipped in a little myself. 

“To me, the seaside is heady and joyous all year round,” says photographer Rob Ball. “We have memories of family holidays or time spent by the coast, so we all have a connection to it.” Ball has published three books of coast-based photos since moving to Whitstable on the north coast of Kent more than a decade ago. His latest, Funland, captures more than 35 British coastal communities, from Arbroath on Scotland’s North Sea coast to Torquay on the English Riviera. “I like how seafronts have visually rich, brightly coloured signs and buildings, alongside the coffee shops and rubbish bins,” Ball says. He is committed to documenting their evolving look, he says: “Our seaside heritage is vulnerable and it’s important to record it before it changes.”

Funland by Rob Ball is published on 23 May by Hoxton Mini Press (£30)

You can see the piece here and his work here.


Twelve Signifigant Photographs.

Downtown LA as seen from a posh house in the Hollywood Hills. (C) Marcus Doyle 2019

Its been three years since I moved to California. Within its sunshine and prettiness there is an abundance of  photographic content waiting to be recorded, so much so I may never leave the State. 
When I was here in 2004-2009 I was constantly traveling across America searching for something. The only problem was, I didn't know what that something was and I just ended up with hundreds of random images, some good, but most of them pretty bad and not worth the film they were shot on. 

Its a common thing among photographers  early on in their career to produce as much work as possible from the fear of not having enough work to show. I think its something every photographer goes through. Personally it took me the best part of 10 years to get over the panic of arriving somewhere and needing to come away with not just one, but as many good images as possible. 
It was dear old Ansel Adams that said;
“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”
This is something I can agree with now, but never 10 years ago. Just the process of being out with a camera these days can be enough.  Having said all that, my approach is different now as I often work within certain project guidelines. But by far the most important thing I have learnt, is to find your boundaries and work within them. At the moment my boundaries are California, but of course that will probably change.. 



Instagram is dead. Long live the Blog...

Out Of The Loop. Mojave Desert. CA
It's been almost 15 months to the day since I last made a post on this now somewhat dated blog. But it seems that it was not just me who abandoned the blog-o-sphere thinking that the likes of Instagram would change their lives forever with its immediate gratification and 'Like' count.  Well I tried that world and grew to hate it on so many levels; The lies, the vanity selfies, those de-saturating images of cake. It was all too much.
And so in an attempt to claw back some kind of honest look into my world of the visual image I have returned from a year (and a bit) off back to who knows what..