I am a bit bored, and my ‘blog needs feeding. So, just for the bants (as they say) here are a few photo related questions…
What got you into Photography?
I had always liked taking snapshots as a child, though at that point I had never really considered much about what they could be other than a record of things I had seen or done. In relation to what I do with my Saturated Imagery project, my interest grew through my interest in ethnography and particularly what visual cues from the environment are able to tell us (or not) about the people and societies who live there.
What’s your camera of choice?
This is a difficult question, as I use so many. I use a Canon EOS 60D for a lot of my work as it is a great camera with pretty much all the bells and whistles of the EOS pro models but at considerably less cost and weight. I use Praktica TL series bodies quite a lot, particularly for monochrome and IR work – they are robust, and the angled shutter release allows me to confidently bring the shutter speed down to 1/15s without blurring the image. I also use a huge number of basic point and click toy cameras, or advanced compacts for specific effects, the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim being an example of this.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
As I said before, much of my interest comes from an interest in ethnography. So the way that people interact with their environment is a big inspiration, concepts such as Henri Lefebrve’s representation of space/spaces of representation and David Harvey’s ideas of consumption and reproduction of spaces. I like ideas of time-space compression, and different ideas of beauty in space. This stems from a big interest in realism – for example an image such as the one here shows a bus at speed with the light trails from a long exposure. Susan Sontag argued that images are a slice of time and space, but we live in four dimensions and a snapshot might not display reality. This image clearly does not depict a bus in real terms – one cannot directly image a light trail as a discrete temporal point, and one does not see light trails in this manner, but the image carries far more of a sense of a bus rushing past on a dark night than a static short exposure shot.
Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?
Far too many. I am quite bad at finishing projects it has to be said. I am working on one titled ‘Hiraeth’ – this is a Welsh word that is loosely translated as nostalgia though it has no direct translation in English. This is a curated set of images which invokes this emotion, shot in various styles and on various equipment. I am also putting together a set of wide angle images documenting industrial buildings, particularly mills and warehouses where the building is in use, but the function does not require it being kept in good condition. And the continual building up of a database of film and cameras that I buy in charity shops.
What qualities are important to you in a photograph?
I think it varies. I find a lot of photographs which are probably technically not ‘good’ appealing and interesting. I think it needs to make you think in some way. For me that is often more important than the aesthetic qualities, though obviously for an image to capture your attention it does need to be aesthetically pleasing and at least relatively technical confident.
Do you have a favourite photographer?
I am not sure I have a favourite. I very much like the work of Ed Burtynsky; his large format work of quarries and mines is quite an inspiration to me. Darren Nisbett’s work (particularly his infra-red images of Chernobyl) is also very inspiring. Of the old masters, I would say Ansel Adams is probably a favourite, as I do a lot of black and white landscape work myself. I would also have to mention Dan Donovan, a guy I know from many years ago following his band around as a teenager; his imagery and use of focus is quite like mine in many ways and looking at his images invokes similar feelings in me to the emotions I aim to capture in mine. And like me he also does a lot of music photography (and music itself) too.