Some things just stand the test of time better than others

Some things just stand the test of time better than others

Hello and welcome to The Candid Eye

My name is James Yeats-Brown and I have been a professional photographer for 15 years or so now - and taking photos generally for a lot longer than that. So what's the story behind The Candid Eye? When I first got into photography it was by its nature a print-making medium; whether I was labouring in the darkroom or anticipating the return of material from the lab, there was always a tangible image at the end of the process to look forward to. As a photographer, I’d take the best of these images and have them hand printed and framed. As a family, we might take the time to stick a selection of our favourites in an album. It’s fair to say, of course, most were simply filed in a box in a drawer, but at least there had been an editing process and they remain as accessible to anyone today as they did 25 years ago.

I worked through the transition from film to digital photography and as a portrait photographer with many family clients it has been fascinating to witness at first hand the change in attitudes towards our photographs of family, friends and travels. Our photos no longer sit in drawers, in all likelihood they are now locked away in our computers or, more abstractly, in the cloud. Publicly, they are shared in huge unedited quantities across platforms such as Facebook. It got me thinking, just how far in decline are physical photographs in the digital, social media-driven age? In particular, where does the traditional family album now stand? Or family archives in general, for that matter?

And so the idea of The Candid Eye came about; to cast a look at social photography in general and family photography in particular; to share some thoughts, comments and tips; in short, to provoke you to think about your own family photographs, their presentation and preservation. I am not chained to tradition - on the contrary, I am excited about the growth in digital photography in all its forms, but I do believe that a print or a book or an album (and there are some interesting alternatives too) can bring more joy to our personal photography. That these will be the only really accessible and lasting documentaries of our lives. That the box of prints hidden in the drawer will outlive our hard drives. I hope you’ll follow the debate.

And a bit about me


As a child peering down on to the screen of my father's twin lens reflex camera I could never get to grips with the subject being upside down and back to front. I'd still say I'm not the most technical photographer; my style is based more on an emotional response to the scene unfolding in front of me. It's an approach that suits location and event photography and especially working with children. 

I am extremely fortunate that my work has brought me into contact with all sorts of wonderful people and taken me all over the world. I have had photographs selected for exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in the Portrait Prize 2004 and 2005. I still try for this but it's got a lot harder lately.

I live in Hampshire with my lovely wife, two growing teenage boys and two cats. Once you have a family I can assure you that time passes quickly and I can't tell you how important it is to record those moments. And yes, to make drawer space for some prints.