I first built tonygibbs.org several years ago as a way of showcasing my photographs in the hope of attracting commercial interest and providing a convenient way for people to download pictures of social events and the like. In those days, Web technologies were relatively limited in what they could do and the huge amount of online resources that we take for granted nowadays simply didn’t exist. The result was a very simple site that attracted a fair amount of interest. Technologies changed and the site went through a number of upgrades, finally reaching the most recent version. By the time this was finished, it had become apparent that the world of web design had moved on but my ideas had stayed indoors. It was time for a re-think.
After a goodly number of false starts, I finally realised that the technology that brought about the rise of the blog was what I needed and this is the basis of the new site. This technology suits my needs well since my online activity has diversified from the earlier versions and now includes texts, slideshows and even a blog. Putting all this together takes quite a bit of doing and wouldn’t be possible at all without the generosity of the many people who make the fruits of their labours available online free of charge. In a culture that is increasingly focussed upon individual gain, it’s heartening to see that so many people are still willing to put tremendous efforts into the creation of a product that has huge commercial potential and then just lay it out for anyone to use. I think it’s important, therefore, to acknowledge publicy what they’ve done and thereby what they’ve allowed others to do.
So a big thankyou to the people that created Wordpress : this is the basic system that runs the SQL databases that run the site. Another big thankyou to BytesforAll whose theme “Atahualpa” provides the design, layout and content control of the site. These are the two key components without which the site simply couldn’t exist in this form and I’m indebted to the people behind them. Unfortunately, older versions of Internet Explorer don’t handle the slideshow pages correctly so I hope this doesn’t spoil your enjoyment. It might encourage you to use a decent browser instead – everything works fine in Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera so who needs IE anyway?
This new site comes online at a time of change for me: after nearly 40 years, I’ve retired from my academic post at Middlesex University and am embarking upon a whole new set of creative adventures with a whole new set of photographic kit. Gone are zoom lenses and intensive digital manipulations: now I carry a set of fixed prime lenses and process the images simply on a mid-range computer upon which I also write, edit, design and maintain the site. A cottage industry for the 21st century ?
But this begs the question “why ?” Many writers and photographers practice their arts because they have something to say, because they have strong opinions and because they feel a need to express them. In younger days, I too had strong opinions and felt the same needs. It’s a pity that I didn’t have the resources that I have now back in those times. Perhaps it’s a part of growing older but these things no longer seem so important any more: what interests me now is to explore and observe and, when I find something interesting, to simply show it to others because they might find it interesting too.
And that’s important: in a frenetic society, it seems to me that one of the best services a creative person can render to others is to say “Hang on a minute, come over here and look at this – it’s really interesting.” All too often, we hurtle past with eyes on the horizon and never see what is immediately at hand. The philosopher Alain de Botton once observed that the soul travels at the speed of a camel. Unfortunately, many travels today are undertaken at hundreds of miles an hour so when we cross the world in a few hours, part of us is left behind and has forlornly to make its own way to catch up: all too often, it doesn’t complete the journey and so we are constrained to experience an exciting new place in the absence of necessary intellectual and emotional resources. Small wonder then, that we often return with a sense of mild disappointment. So that’s what I intend to do – to travel (in the broadest sense of the word) at a leisurely pace and, most importantly, to pause, observe and reflect. Who knows what may be just round the corner?
If you’re interested in buying prints or commissioning photographs, please click here to download my current rate card (in .pdf format).
Click here to see a slideshow of some favourite images.