Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old photographer with an old Gandolfi camera called Ken Griffiths

Ken, whose greatest love was creating photo-essays, documentaries about people and places around the world, using his beloved 10x8 Gandolfi field camera, has died at the age of 69.

He was born in Christchurch, New Zealand to Cornish born mother and South Welsh father and came to Britain at the age of 24 in 1969, enrolled at the Royal College of Art and then stayed on in London, while spending much time in Wales. He was renowned among modern photographers for his use of a whole-plate camera made by the Italian-Scottish Gandolfi family at their 100-year-old business in Peckham, South London.

With his with his big wooden camera, its tripod perched on his shoulders, beneath his battered felt Aussie outback hat, he had the appearance of a throw back to a photographer from another age. In producing his pictures he used either platinum printing or a colour technique known as 'carbro printing', invented in 1863 and almost extinct when he picked it up 100 years later. It involved printing in many layers with pigments rather than dyes, which allowed him to play with colour, contrast, sharpness and detail and gave his photographs their rare, microscopic depth, which often made them look like paintings :

His first assignments in Britain were for the Telegraph Colour Magazine and won the magazine's 'Young Photographer of the Year' award in 1971, which was instrumental in getting him a job at the Sunday Times Magazine, at the time, the pinnacle for British photographers. It was here, that he created his series of 12 photos of old couple, Mr and Mrs Sweetman of Three Cups Corner, East Sussex. Showing the changes in their garden over 12 months with Mrs Sweetman's absence in the last frame, it earned him a place at the high table of twentieth century photographers working in Britain. The fact that, in the last frame, he positioned Mr Sweetman in the place on the path where his wife had once stood, makes her absence and his loss all the more poignant.

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