Photographer’s Interview Part II

November-2012

Describe your approach to photography?

Initially, I tend to take a chaotic approach to photography, often thinking of a story to tell or an idea to share.  They can be from my own experiences or emotions, current events or a different way of looking at content matter.  Quite often, these ideas never materialise as expected.  The ideas may be sound but photographically could be too complex to depict within a single image or set of images.

Once an idea is formulated and acceptable as a photographic set, I capture a few test shots to review the idea then run with it and I’m normally satisfied with the results.  I’m very much a ‘think about the photographs’ person which could be a downfall as it can sometimes take a long time to actualise them.  Sometimes never, however I’m always fond of the work.

What themes or concepts have you explored in your photography this year and why?

As in the previous two years, I have been dark literally and photographically.  In “left to our own devices” I represent the omnipresence of mobile internet, in a world in which we are connected to evermore people, the body seems to act like a phantom limb, requiring just a thumb to interact with ‘digital people’

Other themes considered were the absurdity of confirming to political correctness.  This was difficult to present photographically, as political correctness doesn’t teach people to be mindful of problems in the way they think, it simply attempts to censor speech to avoid offending people.  As such, the project is on hold and may surface again in the future.

Austerity under the Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government was documented in an attempt to highlight that how people cope, or do not cope with Austerity.  Instead, what was photographed was the forgotten items and areas which have become part of and not enhanced by their presence.  Again this project (Austerity 2015) was shelved as more source material is required to effectively demonstrate the projects intention.

As chaotic as I am, photography as a practice and as a format is in a state of flux.  This is demonstrated with two part project ‘Coming or Going‘ and ‘Road to Nowhere‘.  By re-evaluating past projects they become my focus once more.  By manipulating printed photographs, I add further dimensionality to the same ideas I regress  to within some of my projects.  This practice ensures photographic work can be more than what they were originally intended for.  Sometimes, if feels like I am on a road to nowhere.

What artists and/or photographers have most influenced your work this year and why?

Marc De Groot, Steven Klein and David LaChapelle are inspiration for staged photographs.  In their photographs, you see clearly that the camera lies, scenes are deliberately over-processed or hyper-real to create a sense of fiction.

I enjoy the photographs of David Moore and Richard Billingham due to the content and aesthetic of their photographs, something which I hope to achieve when ‘Austerity 2015’ is complete.

Phillip Toledano was another influencer for his work on the editorial ‘Is Facebook Making Us Lonely’ article from The Atlantic.  Using his images as a source of inspiration, I adapted his visual technique and lit similar scenes using ambient light from the devices only.  I connect well with his images as there are parallels between his life and mine which become apparent in ‘Days with my Father

What is the most important thing that you have learned about photography this year?

Not every project should be and can be a photo project however when ideas are thought though, they should at least be shot.  It’s important to shoot what you love, what you know, to plan ahead and set achievable goals.  However, no image at all is better than a bad one.

If you could do anything to improve your images, what would it be?

To read and digest more information on Art and Documentary Photography and to be able to transfer that knowledge into my own work.  This is already a practice however more reading will always be advantageous provided I can use the knowledge practically.

Typically, I use natural or ambient lighting die to the nature of my photographs.  This is restricting in part because areas may not be correct lit and I’ll need to plan on the fly.  My immediate priority is to become more adept with lights, flashes and studio rigs.

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Photography Exhibition: DISTORTED VISION

Distorted Vision Poster

 

Following from the successes of previous Exhibitions “The Eleventh Hour” and “Finding Focus” this year, Award in Photography Artists present: DISTORTED VISION.

Distorted Vision celebrates the final year of our collaborations together over three years as our qualifications are achieved and we are delighted to invite you to our exhibition which is held from 22nd to 26th June 2015 at The Old Library Café & Galleries, 54 Belvoir Street, Leicester, LE1 6QL (map).

The artist’s work on display contains a diverse range of photographic genres including portraiture, self-portraiture, street, documentary, still-life, conceptual, art photography, landscape and post-photography.  The artists also use a wide variety of techniques both in camera and by digital manipulation to produce the work.

Our teacher, Zoe Van-De-Velde has said “There was no intention to just teach students how to use their camera and to ask them to take the standard shots. Their work should, though their creative process be a reflection of them. By this method the students could, over the time of the course become themselves though their images and ultimately forget their tutor’s existence.”

Distorted Vision, presented by the Award in Photography Artists is a free entry, open exhibition featuring creative works by Doug Smith, Estelle Keeber, Gavin Whyman, Krupa Patel, Tom Robson and Zoe Van-De-Velde.

Of my own work, three titles shall be presented, “Left to our own devices”, “Road To Nowhere” and “ID²”

We do hope you are able to attend, should you live or work in this area.  Samples of my work can be seen at my portfolio: www.tomrobson.com.  If you have a project and feel my style is suitable for your needs, please contact me.  Selected artworks are available to purchase and I am available for hire.

Road to Nowhere

‘Road to Nowhere’ evolved from four separate ideas.

Motion Performance, New Year Resolutions, Political Correctness and Austerity.

The above titles did not translate well into photo projects, intentions were thought out and I’ve wrote about the concepts (unpublished because they do not relate photographically to this set).

What has become clear is that photographic projects may not always be appropriate despite a valid reason for the concept.  For example, “Political Correctness” is more ideal as an essay rather than photo project.  The photographs taken for “Motion Performance” did not effectively demonstrate what I wanted to achieve within a single exposure, nor did it provide an adequate set of abstract images.

Photography as a practice and format is currently in a state of flux, just as my own aspirations in photography are.  Last year, I compiled a 26 part photo essay titled ‘Coming or Going’.  The photographs represent a dream like state of two way traffic which asks the question “Are you/we/them coming or going”.  At the time I didn’t fully understand what I wanted to achieve with my photography and due to the sporadic nature of my own processes and cancelled or failed projects I decided to revisit the set and create a new ‘Post Photography’ set of images.

Recently learning about the importance of photographic display and the nature of photography (or more correctly, post-photography), I decided to search for alternative meanings in previous work while drawing on the inspiration of others.  Charles Grogg has said (referring to ‘regrowth: 2013’) that damaging or altering his photographic works brings his attention to them once again.  In his images, he manipulates the printed photograph to add further dimensionality to his photographs.

Adding dimensionality to existing photographs is a regular practice within post photography.  Brendon Fowler has said he uses photographs as material for sculpting work (Fowler: 2013).  This practice ensures the produced artwork is more than the original photographs.

For ‘Road to Nowhere’, I knew I wanted to damage my original photographs as a demonstration of my own approach in that certain projects may never materialise or simply be a facsimile of the original idea.  “Coming or Going” is ideal to develop further to add additional meaning.

By destroying the environment, by burning the roads, by eliminating the method to move within my photographs I and showing you that while I often hesitate in photography, the idea is still there and relevant to me and to the viewer today, just as it was when the original photographs were taken.

I am permanently on a road to nowhere.

Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 01 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 02 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 03 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 04 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 05 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 06 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 07 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 08 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 09 Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson 10