FLIP: You worked for many years in the animation industry and now work as a photographer. When did you start in animation and what inspired you to work in the industry?
RKW: When I completed my diploma course at the London Film School 1970, I worked initially as a freelance assistant camera operator on live action documentaries. Later I saw that Halas & Bachelor Animation Studios were crewing up for people to train and work in their rostrum camera department. The way I looked at it was this: that animation is the marriage between art and film, and these were my favourite subjects. Later I started my own rostrum camera studio.
|John Halas by Richard Keith Wolff|
RKW: I did not really regard it as a big change because as a rostrum cameraman I always regarded myself primarily as a photographer. The only difference is that on an animated film project I am filming artwork with drawn characters, rather than photographing real people and the world outside the window.
|Image by Richard Keith Wolff|
RKW: My stills photography work began before I became involved with animation. At Film School they had darkrooms for still photography, which I made extensive use of. While I was a film student I would also moonlight as a freelance photographer, often photographing musicians.
|John Lennon by Richard Keith Wolff|
RKW: After working in Los Angeles for a number of years I returned to London in 2000, where I continued to work in animation for about three more years. Gradually though I crossed over to stills photography. My feeling about animation is that it is a bit like being in a cult religion (maybe one without deities), but one with some fun people.
|Bryce Canyon by Richard Keith Wolff|
FLIP: What motivated you creatively in your work as a stills photographer?
RKW: I was doing some work for a musician/celebrity photo agency called Retna Pictures, because I admired the work of the photographer who started the company - Michael Putland. (The photo agency has since been split up and sold on). I knew what a musician was but I wanted to pose the question - what is a celebrity? It seemed to me that the people that most interested me were not the ones getting much attention.
|Tracey Emin in front of Peter Blake's painting: Marcel Duchamps plays Chess with Tracey Emin|
However, before you can have art there needs to be a minimum level of civilisation, of peace. We are a country at war, and we have been at war for some years. Moreover we are apparently committed to maintaining these wars and even starting new ones. It is not reasonable to ignore this level of violence which has replaced diplomacy.
|Brian Haw, long term war protestor|
RKW: My position might be more correctly described as: anti-crimes against humanity, but anti-war is maybe close enough. It can have a pertinence in photojournalism, because you can cover the peace campaigns, for example. Also a voice could be given to the victims of war. The real battle is for the narrative.
|Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo detainee. Portrait by Richard Keith Wolff|
RKW: I do not like to commit to one favourite photographer because my taste is evolving. But perhaps one favourite that I would like to suggest is Man Ray. Man Ray regarded himself primarily as a painter and an artist, which he undoubtedly was. However I think as a photographer he was, in a sense, in his own mind at least, slumming it. Man Ray has said that photography is not art. But at the same time he contradicts himself by proving the opposite in his own photography.
FLIP: What type of photography inspires you most?
|Optical Jazz Image by Richard Keith Wolff|
|Image by Richard Keith Wolff|