My father, a commercial photographer, subscribed to the British Journal of Photography and from a very young age I used to love flicking through its pages. While over the last ten years I have maintained a sporadic subscription to the magazine, it has never been as satisfying to my adult eyes as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, photo-books have become my photography drug of choice and I find immersing myself in the vision of one particular photographer at a time gives me a much deeper connection with the work shown. One particular photographer whose output I have become fascinated by in recent years is Iain Sarjeant. Since 2016 I have been collecting his Out Of The Ordinary volume of books, the series now in its third and final iteration. These titles document the spontaneous shots he has taken as he journey’s through everyday Scotland as part of a long-term project.
What first attracted me to his work was that I could see something in his photos that mirrored my own interests in the overlooked. But this soon became more than just an interest in the subject matter and as much about his approach to it—he has an eye that looks to make order out of what other’s would pass by.
I became intrigued when I compared Sarjeant’s subject choices to my own Graphic Commons investigations, and I started to consider just how little graphic design there appeared to be in his compositions. In my wanderings, and somewhat scattergun approach to photography, I can not help but be drawn to the visual culture that collects within the built environment, (see Proposing the Graphic Commons). This has become a focal point to me, and something I find it difficult to now not see. Whereas with Sarjeant’s work, it seemed so devoid of these reference points that I got the feeling he was consciously avoiding such subject matter.
As I studied his work more closely though, I saw that there were traces of the graphic commons in some shots—it being something hard to avoid, after all. I got to considering, maybe, that Scotland’s more outlying communities are the places where there is just less visual pollution getting in one’s line of sight.
Regardless of these personal musings, there is something very visceral about Sarjeant’s compositions that draws me in. Given the myriad framing options open to him for each of his chosen landscapes, every shot displays a confidence that claims each environment. In this, the context is defined by Sarjeant for the viewers of his work, who were they to visit these locations, would find it difficult not to see it from his perspective.
His attention to detail follows through in the selection and ordering of his photographs across the three volumes of Out Of The Ordinary. Each double page spread sees connections form between the chosen work; sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle. It is in the studying of this that brings another layer of enjoyment to looking at his photos—the editing gives further validation of the strength of his eye.
Published by Another Place Press, these A5 landscape titles are affordable, and highly collectable in their limited edition print runs. So much so, that Volume 1 is in its third print run, while Volume 2 is currently sold out.
Out of the Ordinary, A Journey Through Everyday Scotland, Vol. 3, was published in May of this year. To buy a copy follow this link to Another Place Press.
Photographs used in this post: © Iain Sarjeant, and are gratefully used with permission.