Rich Stapleton

Rich Stapleton’s photographic practice is driven by a singular underlying logic – a deeply human instinct to seek out the presence of natural beauty in his surroundings. Stapleton’s eye for organic form and the implicate geometry of the natural world allows him to recognise the continuity between human making and living systems. These are images that express a quiet reverence for existence.

Stapleton’s work might be understood as a persistent reinterpretation of what it means to be still – the timelessness between moments of motion. Subjects ranging from architecture and landscapes, to botanical forms and studies in abstraction, are connected by an intuition for a particular mood and atmosphere – a way of articulating the deep silence that is only rarely seen.

The vision that defines Stapleton’s practice has been developed through years of constant travel, refined by the need to focus perception in new and ever-changing environments. Having spent his early years in Europe, moving between the different locations where his father was posted as a navigator in the Royal Air Force, Stapleton later settled in Bath, England, where he cofounded the arts and travel magazine Cereal with his partner, Rosa Park. Cereal became a test-site for his photographic style, giving him the freedom to experiment with the poetic potential of travel photography, and to collaborate directly with artists and designers to produce his own nuanced interpretations of their work.

What emerged was the outcome of continual exchange with a global audience – a style expressive of silence, yet characterised by a desire to connect and communicate. Stapleton’s approach to image-making moves fluidly between creative commissions for global brands and the pursuit of his own artistic practice. His first book, PALM, was published in 2017 and exhibited at Phillips, London. Botany (2018) was presented at Connolly, London; Forma (2018) showed at Numeroventi, Florence; Drawing Room (2022) exhibited at The Cold Press; and Penumbra was published by Libraryman in 2023 and exhibited at Galerie Half.

Stapleton is now based in Los Angeles, where the inseparability of natural phenomena and urban sprawl provides a setting conducive to his way of being and seeing. The city is the home where he comes to rest after weeks of international travel; it is a place where the sun and the dark room hold a tension of opposites, allowing paradox to be resolved as image.

'(OF) BATH, MMXXII' installation view

Sometimes, the more accurate a photographic representation, the further you move from the original feeling. The image becomes too specific – you lose any potential for interpretation and expansion.