Photographer Clive Egginton sadly passed away recently, and his friend and colleague Dr Casey Orr has written this piece as a tribute, detailing his approach to life and photography as well as his influence on her own work.
The graphic designer Andy Edwards introduced me to Clive Egginton 13 years ago when we were both working on a brief for a publication Andy was doing. We became friends immediately, because although we had different histories and ways of working, we were photographers and sharing photography with someone runs as deep as any cultural and social commonality. Photography has been shaping the way we see ourselves, our world and the world beyond our experiences and knowledge for most of the modern age. Being a photographer is to be an active participant in that powerful and all-pervasive lineage. So we have that in common, us photographers, and it’s not something I take lightly. Neither did Clive.
Clive and I started a conversation, a sharing of ideas and knowledge that continued until he got sick last January. I, along with many other photographers and students, relied on Clive’s extensive knowledge of photographic chemistry and equipment. He was methodical and organised in his working practice and could tease miraculous subtleties of tone and light in his prints. He matched his mastery (and I don’t use that word lightly – Clive was a master photographer and printer) of process and materials with an eye for composition, for substance, for beauty. All that in a picture of a Sheffield steel worker, or a kid on a traveller site or one of his beloved daughters frolicking on the beach. Always with the highest production values; nothing was worth any less than the best.
Clive and I started teaching on Graphic Art & Design at Leeds Met (now Leeds Beckett University) around the same time, in 2002. I think we made a pretty good team with our different strengths and approaches. We both took on MAs and Phds, with their raw and personal themes. That level of study is like therapy in the way it unearths stuff we try to bury, because under the career and life’s work we all undertake lie our most personal and universal questions, and it is a brave and strong person who sets out to make sense of that stuff.
The knowledge necessary to teach at the level Clive was able to, to be able to explain everything (I mean everything) about photography, wasn’t something Clive built an ego on. He knew everything, but he didn’t find power in that knowledge. He was humbled by it. He was full of wonder and a hunger to learn. He had thousands of pictures still left to take, thousands of conversations left unspoken about what a thing looked like, what photographs meant.
Clive lived. He was always full of the wonders and joys he engaged with on a daily basis, family, nature, our wondrous and mysterious time here, the aching beauty of it all.
So I’m left to continue to unpick and question Clive’s incredible life of observation and wonder, to be influenced not only by his generosity with the people around him but also, as a photographer, with his vision, love and care for what we see and we choose to hold as pictures.
You can see more of Clive Egginton’s work here.
This piece originally posted on the Casey Orr blog site, reproduced by kind permission.