One of the main problems with looking through many ‘first photobooks’ and graduate photobooks is the amount that come with authors who are happy with the end product and found the process pleasant. Its never a bad thing to enjoy what you do, if what you do requires nothing more than the fulfilment of a task, the completion of a brief to a set standard or the enactment of a pre-arranged action. But in designing and producing a photobook I have found that the best come from those who are troubled by their work, who wrestle with the process and come out the other side still wanting more.
Charlie Stanhope is a photographer I have known for many, many years now and is someone who fulfils my criteria perfectly. As a fellow student at UCA Rochester I have been privileged enough to see the working methodology behind his consistently strong work, from the early hours in the darkroom to the late-night binge-scanning – Charlie is and will always be troubled by his photography.
Nothing in his work is ever quite done enough – but this is more than a mere self-effacing personality trait, it is the drive behind his precise and ever-improving working methodologies. I sit here now, a copy of his new photobook ‘What Remains’ in front of me and I see the countless hours spent wrestling with each detail, the torment such a project must have put him under and the torment of its completion.
The result is an intriguing, understated and heavy-hearted little book that punches well above its weight. At A5 the contained images are small, but possess an authority that lends to them the impact of a much larger prints. The maps at the front are mind-bogglingly delicate pieces of design and embody perfectly the craftsmanship that has gone into each, unique copy.
As an edition of 5 I wouldn’t hold out hopes of seeing one in person very soon, but that’s not really important. Charlie is just someone I feel we should all be watching. Whatever he decides to do next it’ll be riddled with torment, struggle and will be deeply, deeply troubled.
Ollie Gapper graduated from UCA Rochester in 2014 with a degree in Photography (Contemporary Practice). He is currently studying an MA in Photography with a long-term focus on photobooks and the American landscape.