‘I’m a real Photographer’ is a collection of nineteen series of Photographs by Keith Arnatt that span 30 years, from 1972- 2002. The book accompanied an exhibition by the same name at the Photographers Gallery in London in 2007 which was curated by Arnatt’s good friend and colleague, Magnum photographer David Hurn. The book title references the fact that Arnatt was previously known for his conceptual art, but when introduced to photography as an art form, he then considered this his primary medium.
The collection of photographs displayed within the book tend to explore the theme of rubbish and waste, each with a hint of humour. For example, Arnatt photographed ‘Dog Turds’ (1990) positioning them up on end like miniature garden monuments, using flowers and foliage as a pleasant backdrop, seeming to champion his dog’s excrement. Each series of photographs showcase their own collection, whether it be of tin can sunsets (‘Canned Sunsets’, 1990-1991), ‘German Toys’ (1992), or ‘Gardeners’, 1978-1979, they all lead to a consistent body of work.
Arnatt also keeps consistency within his framing and compositions, for example, in the black and white series ‘The Visitors’ (1974-1976), Arnatt chose to position two people central to the square frame, leading to some rather conservative shots. These early black and white portrait series were more of a test of Arnatt’s to see how people reacted to being photographed.
‘Pictures from a Rubbish Tip’ (1988-1989) mimics the classic still life paintings by displaying food with darkened surroundings in muted colours, achieved by photographing in the evening light. ‘Notes from Jo’ (1991-1994) shows a collection of notes from Arnatt’s wife, Jo, revealing aspects of their relationships. The notes are photographed against a plain background, though intentionally or not, all different shades of off-white, which work well together. The final two series within this book are not done in the typical collective style, they are both series of animals; the first of his cats and dog (Cats and Dogs 1996-2000), the second of Cows, (I Wonder if Cows Wonder, 2002) and are more candid than his other works.
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