How would you describe your photography?
I see things which other people perceive in the peripheral, things which have been discarded or overlooked. I see beauty, in forgotten objects and enjoy photographing their decay and the environment where they are situated. They are personal, expressive, they communicate, and they release a scream from inside. One of the most important things with art photography is to highlight themes and ideals which people often struggle to talk about openly.
You’ve created various pieces of work, can you discuss the work and the motivation behind the images that you have made?
Here I Am, consists 10 individual portraits of the immediate environment of the person. Here I Am, invites you into the comfort zone, a portrait of an activity. It’s voyeuristic; you cease to wonder who the person is and instead ask, what are they doing?
Unicorn was a platform to demonstrate unity across boundaries, and to challenge boundaries during and after the project. It worked, and caused disgrace and offence from both professional and social friends. This became a platform to discuss controversial art and people still suggest I shouldn’t enjoy it. Who are they to think that? (See Unicorn, behind the scenes)
…Broken became a metaphor for how I felt at a particular time, rather than demonstrate the difference in the way people see things which was its intention. The project’s theme and title was in conflict until I felt something I wanted to photograph. In these images I wanted to convey the sense of my own inner conflict, the sense that I am broken and this became the overarching theme for the final photographs.
Semblance began during …Broken, and is used to show clarity and openness, this is who we are, without our façade, this is the real us, our inner beauty and innocence which we have deep inside. I had previously described Semblance as an anti-portrait, but it’s more than that. It shows what we hide, and what we hide from, even when we’re hiding from ourselves. Semblance, is us behind our mask. (See also: Semblance II & Semblance III & Semblance VI)
Which photographers and artists have influenced your work and why?
I enjoy photographs by Francesca Woodman because they, also are her inner screams. She photographs herself, yet obscured. Like she’s reminding you she is there, yet not present. In Why hasn’t everything already disappeared, Jean Bulleriad explains that once we label, or photograph, or even recognise something, it beings to disappear. Sophie Calle, on the other hand documents her life meticulously, storing items for many years. InExquisite Pain, she returns to photographs and past treasures from 15 years earlier, at which time she couldn’t bear to look at again for fear of that pain returning, and so she couldn’t violate its presentation.
My personal favourites remain to be Robert Mapplethorpe, Helen Chadwick, and Susan Sontag, all of whom demonstrate the link between personal freedom, photography as art and willingness to create from their unique view of how reality is superimposed into our subconscious.
Of my own work, Here I Am is a favourite because it’s what people talk about the most. I enjoy listening to people talk about photographs because they each see different things. Here I Am, invites questions and that’s one of the purposes of why I create photographs.
An equal favourite is “Metadata” which states that we are all stripped and reduced to an equation. Something which needs to be processed, we disappear only to be replaced by a copy or perception. At the time of writing,Metadata has gone unnoticed, unquestioned which is a statement in its self.
I do hope readers enjoy my photographs, thanks for reading.
Previously, I had decided to highlight that photographs cannot be stolen due to the method and creativity which underpins each photographer.
It is stimulating to take inspiration from another and recreate a derivative or new work of art. What then is the difference between stealing or copying an idea or paying homage to another artist?
We all see the world in different ways and from the outset that was a core theme.
This project, enabled me to realise that just as I sometimes dismiss others photographic work, it’s ok for others to do the same of mine. In fact, I encourage it. This is just what I do, and there is a need to do it. Who cares if it’s accepted or not? It’s ok to photograph the mundane, the depressing and the state of our world today which for many is of personal routine and the uninteresting. What then of destroying the artistic ideals of others when attempting to display an emotion. Not an emotive image, simply shooting a replacement photograph to break the original idea.
I consider it impossible for viewers outside an extremely small collective to fully appreciate these photographs but different conclusions and questions may arise nevertheless.
We all see things in different ways, two different people can view the same object, or have an affinity for a thing, a person, an event or a way of living and process their experience differently, eliciting a difference in perspective.
The difference is in the way in which things are seen, not just visually but the way we see things mentally, and how we respond, both inside and out. A humorous photograph may elicit a favourable response, an insulting photograph may cause offence and an emotional photograph may change a mood. Does the photograph produce a fixed frame of mind for every person or do viewers create them for themselves? The response to the same photograph is different for each person and it’s different if the viewer knows the photographer. Insight is gained if the photographers’ temperament is known.
At the start of this project I knew that it would be challenging to combine ideas from 10 different artists and explored ways of harmonising the set to ensure that my presence is felt within the new photographs that I was creating. That it may be too difficult to combine different ideas from different people and found myself exploring ways to harmonise them. I never settled on an idea, initially it was to invade the photograph with my presence, with shadows, with fingerprints and even with my own blood.
A sweat, blood and tears overlay concept was considered to visually connect the images together, I found that this did not work as I wanted to convey that photography is more than what can be seen externally as photography really isn’t just about what you can see.
“Way’s of Seeing’s” theme was in conflict until I felt something I wanted to photograph. I’ve not taken many photos lately, I’ve simply not been in the mood. Life got to me and I began to shut down, piece by piece. I became emotionally fractured, damaged and I ceased to be myself for a long time. I was emotionally broken. It’s what I felt, and who wants to take photographs at a time like that unless it’s a method to release pain and angst? In these images I wanted to convey the sense of my own inner conflict, the sense that I am broken and this became the over-arching theme for the final photographs.
The more photographs I take and the critical photography theory I read such as Susan Sontag, Jean Baudrillard and other journals, the more I understand how to think about and use photography conceptually. I photograph best when I’m in pain, and they are my best photographs. Not unlike Sophie Calle who has said “Grief is inevitably a better subject than joy”, she argues. “When I’m happy I don’t photograph the moment to share with people on the wall of a museum. It doesn’t translate so well.”
It’s interesting, the more you get to know a person’s motivation for creating photographs, the more you see that reflected in their work. Not just what’s in the frame, but in the way they create photographs and what people think about before even conceiving the photograph.
I’ve suffered with depression for a long time, I’ve tried medication but it doesn’t work well for me. I can function though, I don’t need for anything, I work and more importantly, I play. Who knows if it’s a genetic trait or the product of my terrestrial existence? Depression is one of the driving forces for creating photographs and you may already understand that depression is a thread that runs though many of our great artists, I believe this is what attracts me to them.
It’s why I’m dismissive of some photography when presented with a sunset, or fantastical landscape, or macro of a small insect on a twig. These are all technically perfect I’m sure but they just don’t make me feel anything. My camera is an engine for me to express myself, not a tool to configure. I don’t care about tack sharp images, I don’t obey the ‘rule of thirds’ I enjoy photographs which make me feel something, and I’m attempting to do the same with my own work.
My own work? – I often take down things, re-organise and dismiss my projects as worthless. Sometimes I go for long periods without creating anything and leave gaps in places where there should be photosets. People tell me my work is good, (I’m even qualified) yet I shun any praise because I do not believe it, when people tell me I have something to offer I tend to shut it out and stop taking photographs.
Low self-esteem, withdrawal, feelings of loneliness and worthlessness are all symptoms of depression. Depressed people don’t function like ‘normal’ people and it’s incomprehensible to people who have never suffered it, you just can’t snap out of it – that would be too easy!
Yet, there I find strength, my inner self – the source of my creativity and if I were ever given the option to rid myself of this fucking disease I would pay harshly because my camera requires me to be this way. It’s comforting to release myself to the camera (any camera) and let it flow on the rare occasions I do. It’s not a therapy but it does allow me to see myself in a different light and it helps me to understand the world around me, it’s my way of seeing.
Consequently, these photographs have become very personal to me, even though they steal the idea and invade the visual aspect of others peoples photographs. I couldn’t have created these photographs without first feeling something, and at the time I was broken. The final photograph combines parts one and two of this project as it’s renamed to “…Broken”, completing the full set of twenty photographs, “Here I Am …Broken”.
I forgive myself for the erratic nature of my creativity, and I’m glad I’ve got this off my chest!