© Mahesh Balasubramanian
© Mahesh Balasubramanian

F50 member Keith Goldstein recently challenged the collective to interpret the word ‘Dark’ in photographs. Six members took up the challenge and this is how they got on.

In the early stages of the project we deliberately avoided discussion of how each of us was thinking about ‘Dark’. Only towards the end of the two month project did hints begin to emerge. It was clear we had considerable overlap in how we conceptualised the word ‘Dark’ but had adopted very different visual strategies.

A shared human experience expressed through our unique identities?

Steve Coleman

“The titles of my pictures are self-explanatory. I tried to capture the vulnerability we feel in dark places. The darkness created by surveillance and the hidden, the not knowing what’s in the dark outside the light. There’s a somewhat more positive picture leaving the dark to give a sense of hope from the fear.”

Matteo Ceschi

“I came out of the shadow, of the friendly comfort of darkness, to throw myself into the unknown of light.

A reverse quête. But only apparently.

The shadow is nothing more than a series of persistent and more or less ample folds in the sea of light. In the dark, there is rest. At the onset of darkness those who did not live enough during the day start living. There is life in the darkness as well as in light.

So I started looking for this vital continuity. Determined to find the luminous darkness which does not interrupt the continuum of everyday life.

A journey in six shots. With different digital cameras. Between the real and the surreal. Towards a dark city which may not even exist but where I come to take refuge.

What I saw I give to you with a touch of Mediterranean superstition…”

John Meehan

“Photographers ‘chase the light’ not the dark.  An absence of light renders a photographer mute. Wittgenstein said “what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence” but, silence was not an option.

So how to say something about ‘Dark’?

‘Dark’ suggests more than an absence of light ‘out there’, it is often a sense of uncertainty, separateness, foreboding, loneliness, depression or outright fear ‘in here’.  In this project it found form in those elements of urban existence that provoke this existential angst, e.g. surreal details, the tribalism of sub-cultures, and the apparent alienation of some of the people around me. If the resulting images convey something of this angst they’re valid.”

Peter Barton

“Producing an image about darkness, for me at least, is a process of getting something out of my head. Some of these images are imaginary constructs made real, using  the camera to capture them, and are not found objects.
I peer into a world opposite to bright and happy. This isn’t Disneyland. It’s visceral and gritty with more than a hint of sadness.”


Mahesh Balasubramanian

“When I thought of “Dark”, I thought I should capture the urban daily life at night. Not something I would normally do, but I tried to get out of my comfort zone by shooting in the dark of night. This theme of ‘Dark’ has opened up lots of visual opportunities. I would like to continue this small project and try to portray the surreal nature of ‘the dark’ and the people I found there.


Keith Goldstein

When I think of the dark, I think of my father returning home late from work. The floor boards creaking under the weight of his footsteps moving down the hallway. His shadow a fleeting mass as it goes by the crack of my bedroom door. A dark silence then exists, where memories of home meet at the intersection of light and dark. It is here I discover a recognition, a faded memory. What I eventually dream is real. I awaken to that loss. My eyes search through the hazy light of morning for the place where I belong. I find comfort in the dark like a familiar friend. Is it not where we began? Is it not where we return?


Vulnerable © Steve Coleman
Prohibited © Steve Coleman
Surveillance © Steve Coleman
Surveillance © Steve Coleman
Out of Darkness
Out of Darkness © Steve Coleman
© Matteo Ceschi
© Matteo Ceschi
© Matteo Ceschi
© Matteo Ceschi
© Matteo Ceschi
© Matteo Ceschi
© Peter Barton
© Peter Barton
© Peter Barton
© Peter Barton
© Peter Barton
© John Meehan
© John Meehan
© John Meehan
© John Meehan
© John Meehan
© Mahesh Balasubramanian
© Mahesh Balasubramanian
© Mahesh Balasubramanian
© Mahesh Balasubramanian
© Keith Goldstein
© Keith Goldstein
© Keith Goldstein
© Keith Goldstein
© Keith Goldstein




13 Replies to “Dark”

    1. Marie
      That’s very generous of you. Thank you on behalf of all the participating photographers. Your work is well known to us and so I’m sure the other guys will be thrilled to get this feedback from you. Best of luck with your own projects (and at ‘Gotham is Calling’ in October).
      Many thanks,
      John (on behalf of f50)

      Liked by 2 people

  1. What a wonderful collection of images and words. It was not what I expected from my friends here at ƒ50 Collective. The images exude feelings of menace and threat (the subways & the figure in the gas mask); of dark days; of dead things (a bird); of decay (dereliction) and so much more. It is a collection I shall return to often, I think, for inspiration and how we interpret the challenges we get.

    Photography of the highest quality…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Yuri, many thanks for the feedback. Always good to hear our work resonates with photographers we respect. Great work you’re doing with #streetchat on Twitter and the Monday Masters series. 👍

      Best, John (on behalf of f50 Collective)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A number of sensitivities and ‘solutions’ in common – and, as well, personal, and cultural, variations. I espcially feel the ‘mediterranian’ vibs in Ceschi’s ‘eye’ and the tight link to individuals in Balasubramanian. Also the touches of color in Goldstein.


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