I mostly do not include people in my photographs. That is because I subscribe to a technique called Absent Presence which calls for their deliberate exclusion.

More recently I have come to realise that strictly speaking such an observation may be untrue, at least at a philosophical level, as according to the words of the late, great Ansel Adams, "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer."


OK so it sounds a bit trite or a bit twee maybe, but I get what he was trying to say. Now the photographer is always there in some sense as the creator of the photograph you could argue but what of the viewer? When there there is no viewer present does the photograph cease to exist only to come back into existence when a viewer reappears?


It's a bit like the old philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception that asks, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?


Perhaps Ansel Adams wasn't completely right and all you can really say is that there is always at least one person present that is the photographer? There again maybe we should forget the philosophy and simply agree there are indeed (mostly) no people in my pictures and deliberately so? 


That is because I want the places themselves to spark the narrative, without the distraction of physical human presence with their impact being implied by suggesting that someone has either just left or is just about to enter the picture. This precludes the ability of peoples actual presence to influence and distract the viewers own interpretation of the scene. Hence the technique of absent presence.


So maybe Adams was right after all, there are always two people in every picture, the photographer and the viewer even if there is no-one in the actual photograph itself?


Now there is a big exception to all of this which is when I am taking pictures of people of course. Oh dear my brain hurts.