Dan Sibley

Dan Sibley discusses some of his ideas about photography with Joel Gailer

Dan Sibley is the first Cozens Street residency artist. He is an active and well known Melbourne based photographer. He takes the everyday and creates modernist form.


Joel Gailer: You are primarily known as a photographer, have you worked in other mediums?

Dan Sibley: Yes, I started in drawing and printmaking and developed into painting. Digital media has always played a large role in many of these applications. Photography seemed like a natural progression in this respect.

Joel Gailer: You are mainly web based in your delivery of photographs, is print still a concern for you?

Dan Sibley: Even though the output for my photography is mainly digital web display. I still make prints. The intention is always for print – in-fact I consider myself a printmaker.

Joel Gailer: Is 20th century modernism a big influence on your photography?


Dan Sibley: My influences come from painting and in that respect, yes, that does influence my photography but it is not something I am actively pursuing.

Joel Gailer: How have the disciplines of printmaking and painting influenced your photography?

Dan Sibley: It has given me a clearer understanding of what photography is and how it differs from other mediums

Joel Gailer: How does it differ?

Dan Sibley: Photography is a subtractive process, as it relates to, what I call ‘in camera photography’. It is based on the traditional precepts of film photography, in that, there is no manipulative or additive process. When you photograph something it is a pre-existing image and you are simply cropping from that scene, image or moment. You can only subtract from what exists and you have to contend with every element in the frame.

This is different to other mediums as you are always building and can omit or add elements to manipulate the outcome.

A photograph to me is like a container – that you collect information in – what you leave out is as important as what you put in it. As the photographer the goal is essentially to place more drama within the frame by cutting away or cropping the excess ‘noise’. I see this is an interesting philosophical position for photography.

Joel Gailer: You have discussed this subtractive process as somehow positive or accumulative, can you explain this?

Dan Sibley: It is not negative, the subtraction is somehow a collecting, a making – the document of the photograph is a collecting – in regards to the viewing of the photograph as a document.

Joel Gailer: What other philosophical aspects of photography interest you?

Dan Sibley: A large part of what I do relies on chance – chance is a big part of the process. Even if you have a preconceived idea of what you want, chance is still the defining factor and sometimes chance will exceed the expectations and that is a primary aim for me.

Joel Gailer: Is location important for you?

I like to photograph in my locality, Melbourne, Australia. My work deals with the familiar, the near and the colloquial. It relates to me my place and being. It is my context, I can understand my context. If it was somewhere else it wouldn’t be that intimate space.

Dan Sibley is active in the Melbourne art scene, he exhibits regularly and more of his photography can be found on:

View Dan’s work at: https://dansibleyabn.wordpress.com/