Mick Paul was born in 1962 in Manchester England. He began learning
photography at age fourteen, fascinated by the chemistry of the
darkroom process and the technical skills demanded of the printmaker.
This interest became his life pursuit: to realize the image of his
minds eye in the finished print.
As a teenage street photographer he experienced quick success with
his photographs published nationally in major newspapers. At seventeen
he began separate apprenticeships, with a fine art printer and a
Paul moved to the United States in 1983 where he has pursued careers
in fine printing and photography. Using skills developed as a fine
printer, he has become a master hand-colorist, using natural dyes,
pencils and oils to create one-of-a-kind photographic prints. He
uses hand coloring not in imitation of nature but to add creative
dimensions to the finished print.
Paul’s first one-man show was in 1995. His work has been honored
in national competition and is exhibited and published regularly
in the Northern California Mendocino region where he now lives,
works and teaches photography. He is engaged in a long term project
to document life on this remote coast, of which his series on birth
(mother/nature, 1996) was a first installment.
Influences on his work are wide ranging. He has learned, he says,
from the deliberate control of Bill Brandt, the drama of Helmut
Newton, and the surrealist vignettes of Ralph Eugene Meatyard.
Paul`s documentary style emphasizes strong composition. “I
equate composition to the plot in a story,” he says. Whether
photographing tourists (Golden Gate Series, 1996) or young dancers
at their recital (Backstage Series, Arena Theatre,1996), he aims
to show people as they are: “It's their connection to their
environment that I see,” says Paul.
Echoing Henri Cartier Bresson, he says “There is a point where
the interplay of light form and action will come together to capture
a moment at it's climax.” He often takes the moment by surprise.
At other times he'll step in to capture his subjects interaction
with the camera. Sometimes his work approaches the realm of fantasy,
but even when using multi-prints to portray complex connections,
his pictures remain rooted in the real world. His intent is to be
“neither unnatural nor contrived.
”Irony is one of the qualities Paul likes to show in his pictures.
The subtleties and complexities of street life continue to inspire
him.”I`m fascinated by the contrast between intent and content
in situations.” Much of photography's vigor is “it`s
power to make one thing of another,” he says. “ I always
see singular things,poignant images within the whole.
A 1996 review said of Paul’s work:
(Photographic) values blended with a self-conscious effort at symmetry
and dramatic juxtaposition encourage the viewer to examine his artistry
and treatment rather than his subject alone.... Looking in for a
moment longer, one is bound to discover unusual or unexpected elements
that rivet the gaze and widen perspective.
Coast Magazine 1996
By Cornelia Reynolds