Photographer Profile: Peter Caney

Although I find the majority of the material for found-film in purchases I make on eBay and similar sites, just occasionally somebody will make a donation of slides or photographs because they would like them to be preserved and viewed by people rather than disposed of.

This happened quite recently when a viewer to the site, Charles Caney, offered me a large collection of medium format slides that his father, Peter Caney had taken in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Since medium format transparencies are quite a rare commodity, I jumped at the chance and Charles very kindly sent the collection of approximately 1200 images to me to use on the site.

The photographs he sent were remarkable for several reasons:

  • They were very well composed and exposed
  • Being medium format and on Kodachrome film, they scan to produce a very good definition images
  • Every image is accompanied by a description of the location, the date the picture was taken and the camera settings used.

As you can imagine, having this sort of descriptive information is unheard of for the sort of images I normally have, so I’m really thrilled to be able to have such a large collection of properly documented images to add to the archive.

Since Charles made the donation, I asked him if he would like to write a feature profile about his father which could be linked to the photos, and he has kindly written the piece that follows as a tribute to his father.

Profile of Peter Caney by his Son, Charles Caney

Peter Caney was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1946 and moved to England in the early 1970s. He trained as an accountant but his passion was photography.  From an early age he had a camera and I remember that he was very pleased when I showed an interest at about age 15 and he gave me his old East German made, Praktica 35mm SLR camera.  His hobby moved on and in the mid-1980s he purchased a Pentax Asahi semi-professional camera that used medium format slide film.

In terms of his photographs he loved landscapes of England and, as we lived in East Berkshire, he had ready access to the southern counties where he went at the weekends to photograph anything that caught his attention.    Most of his photos were taken on his medium format camera and show rural scenes such as old buildings, fields, seaside villages, etc of England in the ten years from 1986 onwards.  The camera did have a few foreign trips to France, Switzerland and the USA but the majority of his photos were of southern England.

As I look though these photos now not only does it remind me of my childhood but I also see a country that has changed so much in the 30 years period since these photos were taken.   Dad was always keen to try to remove from his photos anything that might “date” them such as cars, and he would go to some length to do this. For example, he’d often wait until a car that was in the view of his particular intended photo drove off before he took his photo.  This often meant long waits!

An example of Peter Caney's work
An example of Peter Caney’s work

But even then the pace of life was speeding up and as the years progressed it wasn’t possible to depict a bygone era any longer.  It is interesting to me to note that his photographs have captured an era in the history of the country that came immediately before the rapid modernisation and globalisation that has happened over the intervening three decades.  This was, after all, the age just before the internet. 

That in itself is ironic because Dad at one point towards the mid-1990s tried to make his hobby self-funding by making some of his best photos into greeting cards that might be for interest to tourists at, for example, Windsor Castle.  This business never took off as much as he would have hoped.  But who knows what would have happened had he been able to benefit form that very same modernisation that was creeping into his photos, and had he been able to benefit from the internet in selling his cards to a much wider audience.

Unfortunately he was never able to do so as he died suddenly in 1996,  So when I look back at his photos it is with a sense of nostalgia both for my younger years in a country that has developed so much since, but also, on an even more personal level for a connection with him.

In recent years as time has moved on and I have had my own children, Dad’s aging collection of medium format slides and cameras has been relegated to various attics and garages.  It has been weighing on my mind what to do with them; whilst the cameras and its various accessories were easily moved on via certain internet sale sites, nobody seemed to want his cherished collection of photos. Wishing to respect the energy that he put into taking these photos, I was very reluctant to merely deposit them into the bin and so I was very happy when I connected with Simon via his wonderful site. I hope that others might thereby be able to take some enjoyment from some of Dad’s photos.

A Gallery of Peter Caney’s work

This gallery will show a sample of Peter’s work, which will update as new images are added.

Photographer Profile
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A software developer by profession, I've always been interested in photography and vintage photography in particular. This site is one of several I run which is dedicated to film, photography and photo equipment.

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