Fleabilly – the extraordinary in the ordinary

by Andy Polaine on November 29, 2004


I have just written a new article for Desktop (Issue 200) about photographer, artist, compositor, Ray Lewis. The boyfriend of my lovely pal Rachel, he’s been amassing a really beautiful portfolio of photographs of the special moments from everyday scenes. This one is from a trip on the Greyhound bus. He has some interesting things to say about his process:

“I just have found that the older I get, the more I find myself devising procedures for me to create. With my photography I find myself not wanting to take credit for shots. Sometimes they are really amazing, and I find it hard to imagine that I did that on purpose. The confidence has grown based on the consistent level of good shots, but nevertheless I usually can only produce them if I arrange a procedure that allows me to not feel so responsible for the final image.”

It’s interesting this idea of creating processes to remove oneself from the process of creation and it reminds me a lot of some tactics used in interactive works. Often the work itself is about setting up systems and seeing where they go, except that many of those projects tend to be technically stunning but incredibly dull. But Lewis’s work is really fascinating. He did his MFA with George Krause at the University of Houston and has been inspired by Bruce Gilden with whom he had the chance to shoot one summer. You can see the link between them, but I find Lewis’s photography less of a moment of startling his subjects and more about capturing private moments. I really like his images in which the subject is cropped (as above), there’s something about that process that feels voyeuristic I suppose, but it’s very haunting.

1 Tyler Petrus December 3, 2004 at 5:41 am

I have known Ray since I was about 11, he has always been an idol for me. In the more recent years he has shared with me many of his photographs and though I know his style and process well, nothing ever ceases to surprise and amaze me about his photography. It is always something new and amazing. Look into his stuff, you will love it.

2 apolaine December 3, 2004 at 5:34 pm

Yes, I agree. I’ve been thinking (and writing, might post it sometime) recently about humanity and honesty and I think Ray’s photography really encapsulates these two ideas. So much of the time we don’t really look around us and I think we miss some of the richness of life – it’s wonderful to have our eye drawn to back to it. There’s an honesty about people – they’re flawed, they’re odd, they do crazy things – that ends up being really beautiful because being flawed, odd and crazy is just human.

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