Monday, March 01, 2021

Doctoral studies

Creative people aren't often shy about sharing and promoting their work, so it's unusual when someone with a particular talent hides their light under a bushel - or, in the case of Robert Blomfield, in a shoebox.

Though Blomfield was, strictly speaking, an amateur photographer in the sense that he had a professional career in medicine and only took pictures in his spare time and for his own amusement, that label seems unjust and belittling when you pore over a small sample of his work.

Much like David Hurn, he was inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson and driven both by a desire to capture his surroundings (most significantly in Edinburgh in the 1950s and 1960s) and by a fascination with people, describing photography as "a form of love". Also like Hurn, he had a keen eye for observation and felt that artifice was unnecessary: "I didn't need to set the stage, the stage set itself. All I had to do was take the photo."

Comparisons can also be drawn with Vivian Maier - but Blomfield does seem to have printed many more of his pictures, suggesting some interest in sharing them with others. His work also began to get wider exposure and recognition during his lifetime rather than posthumously, with an exhibition at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh in 2018/2019 and, most recently, a Bluecoat Press book. As sad as his death in December was, it's nice to know that he lived long enough to see a copy.

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