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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Photographer’s Interview Part I

…Broken

Unicorn (Behind The Scenes)

Photographs which should have been

and

Left to our own devices

Photographers Interview

IS
How would you describe your photography?
From
From “Rose Tinted”

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?

Over the past year, I have produced many photographs, the four core projects I’m most proud of are “Here I Am”, “Unicorn”, “…Broken” and “Semblance”.

here-i-am-part-2-of-10-by-tom-robson
Here I Am (II)

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)

Unicorn (V)
Unicorn (V)

…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.

Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 1975-8 by Francesca Woodman 1958-1981
Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 by Francesca Woodman

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.