This interview features veteran photographer Jack Radcliffe. His photographs capture the audience’ interest as each image portay the complexity of the subject and the environment. A truly inspiring visual artist, he establishes a genuine relationship with the people he photographs and this adds an interesting element to his final image. Get to know more about Jack Radcliffe in this amazing interview.
We’d like to know more about you. Can you tell us more about yourself?
When I was drafted into the Marines in 1966 it changed the course of my life. Since I was unable to finish my PHD program in Sociology or pursue my other creative interest I picked up the camera and never put it down. I was hired by Harford Community College in Maryland and started a photography program that I directed for thirty-five years. During all of my time in that position I continued to take photographs and work in the darkroom every week.
When did your love for photography begin?
My love for photography began in 1967 at Camp LeJune in North Carolina. I regret starting out trying to escape my surroundings by taking photographs of landscape in the rural countryside instead of my fellow Marines, I would love to have that record.
Emotions are said to be an important aspect of photography. How crucial is this element for you as a photographer?
Emotional content is essential to my work, I’ve sometimes refer to my work as psychological portraiture. I photograph people for years and sometimes decades, in birth as well as death, we both grow older and our relationships evolve or dissolve. These images are in part self portraits not observations from a passive observer.
Does the people/scenery you capture influence you as a photographer?
Every inch of the image is part of the portrait and of equal importance, if it is not essential to the goal of the photograph it is not there. In one of my classes I used to give an assignment to describe every square inch of the photograph. After a semester of this exercise they never looked at a photograph in the same way.
What tools of the trade do you use most often?
I have used a Hasselblad 6×6 and when I had difficulty focusing that camera as my eyes changed I switched to a Mamiya 645 autofocus and in August 2010 I started using a Canon EOS5D and after thirty-five years of darkroom worked I moved to the computer.
Your work “Hospice” is very inspiring, what was your experience like in shooting this?
When I began photographing the AIDS patients of York House Hospice I was nervous about photographing people at the end of life. I was fortunate to have an intern from Goucher College at the time named Barbara Wood keep a journal of our visits and help me to process the experience. It was the most powerful and gratifying experiences to share the last moments of each patient’s life. We bonded with the staff as well as the Director, Joy Ufema, who each helped create a very beautiful and loving place to die.
What subject/s are your favorite to shoot?
Many people have drawn a parallel between photography and literature. My photographs are narrative and I want to take a photograph that has the best story from those I find interesting, have a relationship with or love. I must say my favorite person to photograph is my daughter, Alison. We have worked together for thirty-five years from her moment of birth to the mature and talented visual and performing artist she is today.