The photographer

'Hindu Cremation' Photograph taken by Stuart Baker-Brown.

'Hindu Cremation' Photograph taken by Stuart Baker-Brown.

Photography-I would describe myself as very visual with my thinking and I try to use photography as a language of expression. Because of life experience, I am in pursuit of reality, the perception of reality and feel that’s why my photography is not so much artistic based but documentary. It’s a captured truth! Or is it? 

Website: www.stuartbakerbrown.co.uk

A lot of my photographs can be interpreted as a self portrait. For example, the photograph ‘Child of Nepal’ represents my understanding of Buddhism, it is very young, naïve, yet I believe I have some understanding of the peace and compassion, Buddhism represents. 

The Hindu Cremation Photographs, express how I feel about the experience of death, and the belief ‘the body is an instrument to carry the soul’ and becomes released in death. The Hindu cremation process is symbolic of the spiritual release back to its origins. The photographs also question the 'culture of death' here in the UK, as taboo, to be feared, but reminds me, that death should be seen as a very natural journey, possibly a spiritual journey, I must ‘one day’ take.    

The need for me to try and express myself through photography has, I believe, developed from not fully being able to express myself for many years, from childhood to adulthood, and so I have tried to discover other forms of communication to help support and express my views. I believe that’s why so many people who experience mental illness turn to the arts, and why the arts is needed in therapy, for sake of internal expression. 

I am in ‘awe’ of the magnificence and natural structure of the Himalayan mountains, they are like ‘Gods’ and although my photographs try to represent their natural beauty and magnificence, they also represent the ‘strong structure’ I have searched for in life and have not found. I have a sense of protection when walking amongst the mountains. 

'When I experienced the Himalayas for the first time in 2003, their presence and power brought an emotional response from me. I remember thinking to myself, if ever ‘God’ lived on Earth, ‘God’ would be here in the Himalayas.'

As an example of my visual thinking and internal expression of emotion: When I first met the photographer and teacher Jerry Lebens, he tapped his finger on a glass table in front of me and explained how a digital photograph was technically structured. In my mind, I straight away saw a very vivid image of a red mosaic appear on the table, and in the centre of the mosaic, a white dove. The mosaic then broke up in front of me and the white dove flew from the table upwards, towards the ceiling and into the sky. The image was so vivid, I lifted my head to watch it fly away. I was nervous of meeting Jerry for the first time, and this experience was my own mind interpreting my emotions visually and letting me know, although I was stressed, the meeting with Jerry was peaceful. 

This was a visual representation of my emotions. I have experienced this for most of my life and it has been interpreted as psychosis. It does have a sense of reality when it happens and can cause a physical reaction. I see it as a visual language, a communication to myself, rather than words but expressed with internal visual effect. 

Photography is a form of communication. It is documentary based, because I am in pursuit of reality. It can also be an expression of my emotions; the mountains are a secure structure I search for and in many ways, landscape, people, or the captured image of a cremation, can all be ‘seen’ as an emotional self portrait.