Agnes B 2007

Richard Learoyd

Pheasants 2 2007

Richard Learoyd


inside a camera

Richard Learoyd's work is the product of a specific but particularly remarkable process. His images are produced individually as singular objects. Utilizing a distinct photographic method he creates life sized images inside a specifically built camera. This construction captures the image without any interposing film negative, transparency or intermediate material. Instead the apparatus of light is directly focussed by the camera and translated onto a sheet of positive photographic paper. With no means of reproduction, once created, ultimately every image is entirely unique in its existence.

The photographs are created and conceived as a whole, not as fragments or miniaturisations of objects and people. Whilst being made, the image is viewed by standing in the camera. The transient and realistic images of people are translated on a white board on a black wall, the ultimate personal cinema, or mechanised camera obscura.
All photographs are produced within a single room. A process in itself, objects and people are brought to the camera, positioned and arranged in front of it in order to create still lives or portraits. Artless compositions and simple constructions belie complex and restrictive rules dictated by the physics of optics and light. They import a sense of obscurity that contrasts with the reasonableness and regulations of some photographic formalities. Portraits, nudes and objects all share the same realistic treatment. Unlike pinhole photography, Learoyd’s images are without any distortion and are in no way compromised by the manner of his camera’s construction. He considers the method he uses to be a natural step in search of the ultimate image, not only in its ability to create a likeness but also in the object's ability to translate the intention of the maker. The image’s wholeness and engrossing realism redefines the photographic illusion.

The objects are not mundane every day objects taken in situ, they are staged on their own pedestals for closer inspection. A glossy squid joins the decadent tableaux of entities: nudes, flowers and marble sculptures. The colours are rich and the detail indulgent, but there is a distilled quietness, sustained within their own hermetic condition.