Born in London but grew up just outside where it was greener. Got lost in high school in the late sixties but luckily found a way out by going to art school back in London to do photography. I worked as a mediocre and uninspired photographer on and off for a while, here and there, and then luckily just for museums and archaeology which I was better at and enjoyed. But underlying artistic interests would just not rest so finally it was back to London again, this time as a technical assistant in photography for fine art students at an art school. That suited me perfectly and it was a privilege and a joy working there. I learned so much from that environment too. Eventually moved to Sweden where photography had to take a back seat.
I’ve had work shown here and there, now and again. At college I won an national Ilford College Award, had a small collection appearing in the Creative Camera Yearbook and had a portfolio published in The British Journal of Photography. A while ago I had a couple of prints at the Kiernan Gallery in Lexington, Virginia, USA and a print at the 1650 Gallery in Los Angeles, USA. I have some work at the Art Photo Collection Gallery in Gothenburg, Sweden and fairly regularly have alternative/photopolymer prints in group shows in Sweden. I also received a Juror Award of Merit from the International Fine Art Photography Competition in 2013. You can open a ‘Spotlight’ article about what I do here ‘BW-magazine-Jeffery‘ that appeared in “Black & White” magazine a few years back. Presently I am also on LensCulture – www.lensculture.com/projects/185349-rural-street-in-b-w. as well as some alternative photo works on www.alternativephotography.com/david-jeffery/
I normally use a regular SLR camera and take it from there. But other times I might use a mobile telephone, a scanner or anything else for any number of reasons. The computer is the best thing since sliced bread compared to the bad old ‘good old days’ in my opinion. The trick is remembering that it’s only a tool.
I use a rather haphazard mix of technology combined with a zen-like simplicity. Waiting for inspiration is the tough bit. In one sense it is a case of knowing what’s possible within the medium while of course hoping for the impossible to happen. It’s a bit like fishing. You assume they’re all down there somewhere even though you can’t see them; it’s just a matter of catching them.
Picture making is neither my job nor my hobby but rather my occasional burning passion: there is a difference. I use the photographic medium mainly in a broad sense but I don’t see myself as a photographer in the normal sense. Too arty for many photographers and too photographic for many artists the ‘job description’ would therefore state ‘picture-maker’ or something similar instead – it’s easier that way. I may share the same medium and the same tools but I think we might part company regarding common ground after that.
Although I normally work with a camera – and in so doing become “a photographer” in a way – I don’t normally produce pictures of “beautiful things” or even “important things” in the common sense of such descriptions. I just don’t have that much interest or ambition in that direction. There are plenty of others who fill that role with ease and very many of them do a very good job too; it’s just not for me, that’s all. However, I often have some kind of half-cooked project on the back burner that normally involves pure photography but sometimes it might lean towards using cross-over media. Art is in the business of taking down barriers, not putting them up.
I suppose I choose to champion more humble subject matter, though I think it is only humble at first sight. Dead leaves, a muddy puddle, a fleeting shaft of light, gravel on a road, graffiti on a bus shelter, con trails in the heavens, natural shadows hiding natural worlds, natural worlds struggling with man-made worlds. In other words, a reflection of the world we actually inhabit on a daily basis, not an isolated entombment of a rare ideal. Of course I like a good sunset just like anybody else, it’s just that “further down the scale” there are many miracles to discover too, though they are neither immediately obvious nor obviously appealing.
Although it’s almost certainly not immediately apparent either, there is a thread of a kind running through most of what I do, often cryptically hinting at allegories, metaphors and symbols. On a lighter note you could say many images just reflect an interest in ‘the extraordinary in the ordinary’ with all its wonders and implications with an occasional dash of worldly comment or a small hint of humour. Pretty simple really and mercifully forgiving. Of course sometimes the picture just stares at you, fully developed and ready to go in your head without any explanation in advance of pressing the button, almost certainly based on forgotten memories of previously enjoyed images by others. All art is probably theft in one way or another.
Occasionally I get bored and venture into the world of alternative photography and printmaking. Alternative photography covers a collection of image-making methods that normally rely to greater or lesser degrees on light sensitive substances. This can encompass both image capture (pinhole and home-made cameras etc) as well as final image production in their various forms. The latter often involves analogue methods (as opposed to purely digital) which can change the direction and character of the results. Printmaking is normally seen as an endeavour for artists as opposed to photographers. Common terms for some ‘printmaking’ methods are etching, lithography, screen printing etc. In my case the relevant ‘alternative’ terms would be cyanotype, photopolymer, etc.
So, more simply put, I sometimes crossover from ‘photography’ to ‘alternative photography’ to ‘printmaking’ and back again, loaning techniques and gaining benefits from each. I try not to be too concerned where the borders lie as I don’t think it’s really necessary to have any. I might work on the computer using the appropriate skills and then bring the image back into the analogue world for the next round of enjoyment and even back again and am very happy to embrace both worlds. I can’t really see the point in labelling as it only erects creative barriers. And where’s the fun in that?
If you are interested in moving in this kind of ‘alternative’ direction yourself, by the way, you might like to take a look at www.alternativephotography.com which is a very good place to start for information and inspiration featuring lots of different people doing lots of interesting things!