What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.

The dry and thorny desert trips continue  as I make my way through the Mojave again this week. 
It used to baffle me why people would live in such a place, but the quite open space keeps bringing me back and I can see the appeal of living the desert life. Of course this will change  in a few months when its a 120 degrees and I am attacked by a desert dog or sand flies. 
I did meet a man who claimed to be living in the desert, and by that I mean living off the land and not a house with ac and running water. He certainly looked like he had been ruffing it, or maybe he was just homeless. But after talking with him for a while I realized he actually was serious and as it happens very interested in photography (or stealing my camera). 
And so I continued to entertain him and then he asked if I he could watch me make a photograph. At this point I wasn't sure if he wanted to be my friend, rob me, or undo my belt. But concerns aside I began to compose an image and talked him through my steps. 
And so after setting up a shot with a mountain in the background, an old sofa in the foreground, and a stray dog in the distance, the desert man asked if I could hold on a moment why he went to get something. And so I waited with baited breath as the man scurried off, probably to get a knife or a large stick, at least that's what I was thinking. Moments later the dirty man reappeared  holding something wrapped in a dirty old towel. 
"You've inspired me to take a photograph. would you mind?"
At that moment he removed the towel covering a camera and lifted it to his eye. 
It was a Leica M3...

What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.
Edward Abbey


The Mojave desert continues to pull me in again as I continue to explore its vastness. My latest trip gave me a blanket of cloud and soft light, perfect for those pastel tones..


Not sure where or when, but its a throwback to when I would venture out into the darkness armed with a camera, a sturdy tripod, and a fancy flashlight.



Going back to the old 6/17 format and using film has been a real joy. In a photographic world set on giving the photographer limitless possibilities its good to work on a somewhat fickle format and its many limitations; measuring focus, cocking shutters, making sure the lens cap is off, winding on film to the right spot, closing the lens, working out the exposure and filter compensation, and a few more things I always forget. But then I remember, limitation equals more creation.
As a predominantly 'landscape' photographer  you often want a lot in shot from side to side, but not so much in front. This is where the panoramic format comes into play. 
There is still a part of me that thinks that the format is still a bit long and silly but that hasn't stopped me shooting with it over the past ten years or more. In fact I dug out the ones I liked and added a new page to my website. 



 I've been working on a series in the Mojave recently. Its a place I am often drawn to and love the drive through the mountains and the dusty desert towns. The winter months are perfect for this kind of thing and as always I pop in  for a bite at Malcom's Restaurant on Pearblossom Highway and see my good friend Earl.

Earl. 2019


I was sad to hear the passing of Photographer Terry O'Neill today.
I printed some of Terry's work back in the day and he was indeed a very nice and very funny man without the over-bloated ego that some of his rivals had.
He was also incredibly generous and signed several prints for me by way of appreciation one of which is pictured here (my personal favorite.)

He work lives on..



Creation through limitation..

Last week I dusted off my 6/17 panoramic and ventured out into the desert. It's probably been 5 or 6 years since I used the mighty Art Camera. It a huge thing, but thankfully can be hand-held thanks to a few modifications and big arms. 
Its easy to forget the joys of shooting film and it took a little while to slip back into that way of thinking, especially with this camera which uses a large format lens and has 5 things to remember before taking a shot.
I had forgotten the sense of achievement you feel when shooting film, and of course the anticipation of getting back those films. But of course then comes the scanning and dust removal which brings you back down to earth...Still well worth the efforts of feeling like a proper photographer though


A Door and A Spoon.


 Approaching my tenth year of teaching photography, I still get hung up reading and researching all the codswallop people have come up with over the years in regards to The Rules of Photography.
I should begin by stating that personally I believe there are no rules within the artistic realm, and any if are they should only serve to be broken. I also believe that the writers of such nonsense probably never made a photograph, ever...
Take the image below. Made in the middle of the day, in bright sunshine, with the main subject in the middle of the frame.
Photography is what YOU make it. No one else..

Scotland/England Border. 2009 By Coastal series.
Its been so long since I visited the homeland now that anytime I see an image of it I get all goose bumpy and nostalgic.
I have always considered my By Coastal project (2009 ish) as a pivotal point in my image making. Despite it being physically and technically the hardest project I have shot (think very very cold, very very wet, windy most of the time, dark,  and using a large format camera and film). It is a project I will always hold dear.
The above image was made along the border of England and Scotland before the barriers and passport controls come into effect (a bad Brexit joke there).


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.