Documentary photographer Vinca Petersen joins Martin Parr for the fourth instalment of the MPF series 'Sofa Sessions: Conversations with Martin Parr'. They discuss Vinca’s seminal work ‘No System’, which explores the sub-culture of travelling sound systems and life on the road. The Foundation holds the original No System photobook dummy and a portfolio of No System prints. Highlights from the portfolio can be seen in the archive section of the MPF website: https://www.martinparrfoundation.org/... Subscribe to the Martin Parr Foundation channel and click the bell to hear from more from established and emerging photographers in conversation with Martin Parr, at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol. Produced by the Martin Parr Foundation. Filmed and edited by Alex Parkyn-Smith.
By David Walker
“New York City, 1963,” by Joel Meyerowitz. From 1962 to 1965, Meyerowitz and Garry Winogrand “pounded the streets every day” with their cameras cocked and ready, looking for the “fragment of perception that stimulated our consciousness,” Meyerowitz recalls.
When we asked photographers to define “street photography,” they cited the work of several photographers as examples: Helen Levitt, Eugène Atget, Diane Arbus and William Klein, among others. But the photographer most frequently mentioned is Garry Winogrand (1928-1984). To photographers who knew Winogrand personally and those who know him only through his incongruous, witty work, he epitomizes the genre. Photographer...
Alongside a preview of his new book, ‘Joel Meyerowitz: Where I Find Myself’, the photographer gives us a masterclass in the medium
TEXT Douglas Greenwood
The street has always been a place where life unfolds unexpectedly. For the past 56 years, American photographer Joel Meyerowitz has tried his best to capture as much of it as he can.
Now considered one of the founding fathers of the medium, Meyerowitz found himself at the epicentre of a movement when he first picked up a camera in early 1960s New York City. Shooting in colour was considered crass back then – used only for commercial purposes – but as it was all that he had to hand, he was able to capture the chaos and jubilance of a generation in crisp, vibrant detail. It would be the start of a highly influential career that saw Meyerowitz create some of the most admired collections of 20th century photography, including Cape Light, his series shot over a summer in Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and his beautiful photos of shorelines at dusk in Bay/Sky.
Joel Meyerowitz: Where I Find Myself is the biggest published retrospective of his photography to date. Presented to the reader in reverse order, it chronicles Meyerowitz’s best work, from his sobering photos of a post-9/11 New York City in mourning to his romantic, mid-20th century shots of the carefree lives of those living in towns and cities across America.
“[It was] a bittersweet and yet fascinating experience to look at 50,000 photographs and say goodbye to most of them,” says Meyerowitz. All of that work brought him to where he is today. Having recently celebrated his 80th birthday, he still continues to take still-life photographs of objects he finds in the junkyards of his Tuscan town.
Now, Meyerowitz says times have changed for street photographers – particularly those looking to capture an organic, fleeting moment. “[Back then], you could feel the sensual mix on the street,” he says. “Today, it’s very different. Most people have a cell phone to their ear, or are communicating – they think – with others. They’re somewhat distanced from the real world, so it’s not as sensual, erotic or playful as it used to be.”
That doesn’t mean modern photographers can’t adopt the style to make beautiful pictures, though. Here, Joel Meyerowitz shares five tips on how to take masterful, honest photographs of life on the street.
As we enter into our sixth year of the annual Student Prize competition, we at Lenscratch find ourselves truly amazed at the quality of work that passes through the submission inbox year after year after year. Aline Smithson and myself were joined by previous Student Prize winner Shawn Bush as we sat down with nearly 200 submissions from all over the world. It is with great pleasure to announce the first-place winner Zora J Murff, recognizing his body of work Re-Making The Mark, and also celebrating his excellence as an MFA graduate from University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
In his body of work Re-Making The Mark, Zora navigates iconography that is structured upon historical and cultural racial profiles. It is hard for me to articulate themes of race and violence when looking at the breadth of Zora’s work because my privileges have allowed me to slip by in life without addressing either. This is why the work that Zora does is truly important. It facilitates conversations that are hard to have, and it provides representation when there is lack thereof. Re-Making The Mark highlights the beauty and normality that should be seen within people of color and their communities, though emphasizes the realities of how racism is rooted in signifiers regardless of the time of day.
Zora’s work is currently on view at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Fransisco from July 5 – October 28.
Zora J Murff is an MFA Candidate in Studio Art at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Zora attended the University of Iowa where he studied Photography and holds a BS in Psychology from Iowa State University. Combining his education in human services and art, Zora’s photography focuses on race, identity, and how images are used to reinforce social and cultural constructs. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and featured online including the British Journal of Photography and The Guardian. His work has also been published in Aperture Magazine, VICE Magazine, GOOD Magazine, and The New York Times. Zora was the Daylight Photo Award Winner in 2017, a Lensculture 2017 Top 50 Emerging Talent, and a Joy of Giving Something Fellow through Imagining America in 2016. Zora’s first monograph, Corrections, was published by Aint-Bad Editions, and his second monograph Lost, Omaha was published by Kris Graves Projects. Zora is also a Co-Curator of Strange Fire Collective with Jess T. Dugan, Hamidah Glasgow, and Rafael Soldi.
How has studying photography changed the way that you think and create photographic imagery?
My educational background isn’t in art, and I wasn’t exposed to much art growing up. I graduated with a degree in Psychology in 2010, and that led me into the human services field. I picked up photography as a hobby and eventually decided to study it. When I began my first series Corrections, I was still pretty naive to what could be accomplished with photography, but I think my experiences with–and inherent drive for–working with people was highly influential on the work that I make.
As an undergraduate student, I worked closely with Jeff Rich and Margaret Stratton at the University of Iowa, and their leanings towards documentary photography was influential in how I conceptualized my own photographs and thoughts on photography. As a graduate student, I was still very interested in documentary photography, but I became more interested in how the genre could be expanded—how I could tell a story without being so directly tied to truth. That was a special thing about going to graduate school. I had time and resources to try different approaches to photography and broaden my thoughts on it.
by PETE LITTLEWOOD
The Ausseerland, in the geographical middle of Austria, is an area of outstanding natural beauty with its crystal clear lakes and impressive mountain backdrops. Beneath its picture-postcard appearance, the region and its inhabitants preserve a strong sense of tradition and heritage, while equally embracing change and progression. Austrian Leica S photographer Armin Walcher explores this fascinating region in search of the hard-to-pin-down sense of local identity via 30 in-depth encounters with local craftspeople, musicians, and artists. The personal stories are told via images and text in the beautifully compiled book “Zeitlos in Bewegung”, while an interactive website includes compelling videos, offering more insight into the 30 individual stories. Here we feature just a few of these local characters and speak with Armin about the challenges of capturing such an elusive concept as local identity in photographic form.
You used to be a professional athlete before you became a photographer, how did you transition from one career to the next?
It was more or less by accident. During my career as a professional athlete, I wanted to update my website with better photos. So I bought a better camera. I immediately fell in love with the feeling of photography, which I had not been able to imagine before. I really got obsessed and started to do more and more and more…
How did your passion for photography develop? Is there anyone in particular, who influenced or inspired you along the way?
The development went from nature to sports, then to commercial, people and documentary photography. It was a process, I would say. I had to grow as a person to go more into people and documentary photography. I could not imagine that when I started to shoot. It took me some time.
Nature photography is still a learning process for me. I gain new insights each time I shoot, I keep discovering new things and I appreciate it if situations have meaning in an honest way, not in a spectacular one.
I learn a lot from each kind of photography, which keeps my life and my life as a photographer in fascinating movement. I don’t want to stand still. I want to develop. I can’t say who influenced or inspired me in particular, but my dad is a big part of my career in photography. He loves photography and always has honest feedback.
Morgan Roberts speaks with Speaks with Sam Attwood and Chloe Brescia of Raquet Film in Newfarm about everything from A to Tri-X ...
BJP meets with the giant of British photography to discuss his new book - the re-edited NW1 - his career and his approach to life itself
If you’ve heard Tom Hulce’s laugh in the film Amadeus, you’ve got an idea of how David Bailey’s laugh sounds – high-pitched, explosive, and very infectious. I’ve met him before at a press breakfast and he seemed like a bit of a handful; this time it’s a one-to-one in his studio, and he’s on affable, charming form. “What’s your story?” he asks at the end of the interview, then he introduces me to his team.
Still, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. We’re here to talk about NW1, the recent re-edited version of his 1982 book showing largely deserted streets in the London postcode; when I venture he’s better-known for portraits, he snaps he “can’t help other peoples’ lack of curiosity”.
“They think I live in Devon, I’ve never lived in Devon,” he expands, warming up to his theme – his studio manager later clarifies that he has a house and visits it, but doesn’t live there. “Kate Moss is not going to come down to Devon to get her photograph taken. You can only live in London, New York or Paris doing what I do.”
Cory Vanderploeg, has established himself as one of the most sought after photographers throughout North America; having added a multitude of high-end clients, such as Vogue, Thom Browne, TIME magazine, Human Rights Watch, and many more to his roster in recent years. His experience in the film industry inspired his passion to create works of art that combine photography, motion and interactive design. Cory is an award winning photographer and has been published nationally for his photography and motion work predominantly in the fashion world.
Daily News: What does a typical day look like for you?
Cory: I wake up on the weekdays at 7:30am, go to the gym, or do emails until 10am. Then from 10-6 roughly I’m on set shooting or working on photos. The day is always hectic and no day is the same, but I am locked in, in work mode for 8 hours MINIMUM. After 6 the rest of the evening is spent retouching or planning for next shoot. If I don’t go to bed exhausted and completely spent then I feel like I wasted the day.
By Grant Scott
Iain Sarjeant is a photographer based in the Highlands of Scotland who founded the Another Place Press as a small independent publisher to showcase contemporary landscape photography. To date he has published nine books that explore landscape covering themes documenting the land, place, journey, city and environment from the remotest corners of the globe to the centre of the largest cities. It’s an ambitious premise and even more so as the imprint consists of just one employee. Iain is that employee and his responsibilities include all aspects of publishing the books, running the blog, all social media and continuing to work as a commissioned photographer as well as progressing his personal projects. Despite this he spared sometime to talk with Grant Scott about the current independent publishing landscape and his personal experiences in establishing his own publishing company.
Grant: I hear and read a lot of discussion amongst photographers about photobooks but very little about publishing, which is something we are all doing every day even if we are not aware of it. Every time we write a tweet or post on Facebook or Instagram we are publishing, but the art and complexity of publishing is rarely understood. I’m also not sure if photographers are comfortable with being referred to as publishers.
Iain: It’s become relatively easy to produce a photobook which is exciting, but I think there is a need to think through the process carefully, in particular how to sell decent quantities of a book, if that is the goal. In many ways, the marketing and selling is the most challenging part of the process. I have a background in graphic design and a knowledge of the print and design process – I am comfortable handling everything in-house and have decent connections with printers, but I’m no publishing expert. Another Place Press developed out of the Another Place blog, which I started a few years ago, and right from the start I hoped that it would develop into a publishing project. I was inspired by small publishers such as The Velvet Cell www.thevelvetcell.com, I loved what they do – Eanna has a real eye for design. I also feel design is very important – of course a book needs a strong series of photographs that work well, but you cannot underestimate the importance of design.
Grant: There seems to be a strong collaborative sense amongst independent publishers.
Iain: Absolutely, Eanna, the founder of The Velvet Cell was very supportive in helping me establish Another Place even though I could be seen as a potential competitor. Craig Atkinson at Café Royal is producing great books and I know Al Palmer at Brown Owl Press, but there are not that many publishers releasing the kind of small books we are producing. I started with small books partly for financial reasons, but I do like their size – good quality small books produced at a reasonable price that everyone can afford. I very much like the idea of them being affordable, accessible to all.
BY MARC HORNER
Over the last few years, Fujifilm has invited professional photographers from around the world to meet with the product planning and R&D teams to discuss current and future products. Names you may or may not have heard of such as Zack Arias, David Hobby, Bert Stephani, Kevin Mullins, Gianluca Colla, Tomasz Lazar, Damien Lovegrove, Knut Koivisto, Chris Weston and more have all given their feedback and input into the “kai-zen” development mentality of the Fujifilm X system.
However, this process has actually been going on for longer than that.
Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to meet with Yukio Uchida, a famous professional photographer from Japan who had been speaking about Fujifilm cameras at the CP+ show in Yokohama. Yukio was one of the world’s first “X-Photographers”; his feedback has been instrumental in the development of the Fujifilm X system. I was able to get 10 minutes of his time to ask him a few questions about his involvement with Fujifilm R&D, and also his own photographic style.
MH: Thank you for taking some time meet me and talk about you and your photography.
Is this your first time presenting at CP+?
YU: No, this is my fourth year. Every year it gets better than previous. Four years ago very few people used X series but over time the amount of users has increased, and also the amount of people that come to watch me speak has increased.
Ryan Neilan talks about the freeing experience of film
Deep blacks, blown highlights, contrast heavy. Heavily influenced by the Are-Bure-Boke style from Japan, Ryan Neilan’s images are often out of focus, blurry and feature lots of heavy grain. Having shot his first roll of film back in 1999, Neilan would take pictures of his friends’ band playing in a local community center. And as he would describe it, the process of knowing how to obtain a good image got him hooked and he has been doing photography ever since. He shares his experience of changing 100% back from digital to analog and how Leica has played a key role in this unraveling process.
What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?
I’ve always enjoyed art and music, but I have never been able to draw, to really learn an instrument well. It just didn’t click with me. But when I look at a picture, a good photograph, there’s just a feeling you get. It just clicks. I’m sure it’s the same for guitarists and painters, they just have a connection with that art form. For me it just happens to be photography.
My approach is perhaps a little different to most. I shoot film and shoot a lot of film. I shot forty rolls in five days in Tokyo. When I go out to shoot I walk quickly. I like to move quickly through the streets and people. I stop for a split second to press the shutter, barely breaking stride before moving on. I rarely talk to the people I photograph, usually I’m long gone before they have a chance to react. I can easily shoot three to five rolls in an hour and thanks to the 35mm I’m trying to get closer as I shoot.
I have stopped going out to randomly shoot as I used to and am now really focusing on projects. After the Tokyo project, my next project is based in Ho Chi Minh City. The images you see of the city are usually the over done, overly pretty tourist shots. I don’t think anyone has ever really shot this city in this darker black and white style before. I have another project in the works on the growing hardcore punk music scene that is growing here in Saigon.
My name is Ashley Comer and I’m a photographer and teacher living and working in England. I am interested in photography as a tool for communicating a story. I typically shoot using a Canon 5D mark ii, 50mm lens though have done projects with 35mm film (pentax k1000) as well as with large format. Most recently I finished working on a “photo a day” project which started January of 2016 and ended in November of 2017.
What began as a New Year’s Resolution turned into a visual documentation of my thoughts and emotions as they travel throughout the days. As the year evolved as did the photographs. Feminist revolts, political dismay, unrequited love, the experience of living in New York City, are all woven into the quilt of my 2016. Alone they are snapshots of my thoughts and experiences in my day-to-day life, but together they create a whole new snapshot. Capturing this year in the romance, the struggles, the fun and games, the protests, and the people trying to find their place in the world.
Why did you get into photography?
I first joined photography club when I was 15. I just happened to notice my crush had an interest in it so wanted to learn more. At that point, I was shooting a lot of macro stuff and just figuring it all out. I didn’t realize the power of photography until my first University photography class in which I was shown the work of photographers like Diane Arbus and Gregory Crewdson. I was blown away and ever since that day thought of photography differently.
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thomas schwab: On my way to your place, I ran into a friend. When I told him I was en route to interview you, he got really excited. “Ask him about his relationship with the models on his sets. He is the master of erotic photographs! To me, he’s like the ancestor of Terry Richardson.” I actually don’t think of you in that way. I associate you more with Tom Wesselmann, Allen Jones, and other sensual pop artists.
harri peccinotti: (Laughs) Yeah, I suppose. I don’t consider myself a so-called erotic photographer. I take pictures of girls with no clothes on because I like them with no clothes on. I just like the look of them. I think of it more in a painterly way. I’m never thinking in a vulgar way when I’m taking those pictures.
ts: Have you ever been considered a pornographic photographer?
hp: Well, I hope not! “My father, the pornographic photographer,” my son always says. He’s joking because he knows I’m not.
ts: Have you taken “sexy” photographs from the beginning? It feels like you’ve always had your set style.
hp: Only a small amount of the photography that I’ve done is sexy. They’re the ones that people remember, though, so maybe they’re the more successful ones. Or maybe other people are more interested in it than I am. I didn’t start with a goal to take sexy pictures, or not-sexy pictures. I just like women, really—women of all sorts.
Interview by Helena Lee
Olivia Arthur is a British documentary photographer and member of the Magnum photography agency. Originally studying mathematics at Oxford University she later studied photojournalism at the London College of Printing. .. Wikipedea
Bazaar: What draws you to photojournalism?
Olivia: It’s photography with more story telling. A single image can be amazing and dramatic. I started out shooting individual images for Cherwell [Oxford’s student newspaper], but I found I wanted to have more of a voice: to actually say something. I wanted to do something more personal over a long period of time, with more authorship.
Bazaar: What’s the story you are most proud of telling?
Olivia: Jeddah Diary is my first book, so I am proud of that. It was also the first time I’ve worked with both words and photographs successfully. Saudi Arabia is so conservative. At first there were photographs of women I took that I couldn’t publish – of women without their abayas [the cloak they must wear in public]. So I started writing out little anecdotes about things I couldn’t photograph and wove it in with a more obscure picture and called it “moments that got away”. I realised these worked as well as the photographs by themselves. There are a lot of photographers who feel the story is all in the photographs but I really believe in weaving in complementary words with the pictures.
Wlliam Eggleston might be one of the only Americans to call 2016 a great year. That's in large part because he doesn’t vote, a decision the legendary photographer made decades ago. “The last person I would have [voted for] was JFK,” he quipped in his signature Southern drawl in a suite at the Bowery Hotel in New York last week. “But between then and now I didn’t care for the candidates.”
“This year, everything’s coming together,” he said in almost the same breath, about the happy synchronicity of his being honored at the Aperture Foundation’s annual fall benefit, his new exhibition at David Zwirner gallery and re-edition of The Democratic Forest from David Zwirner Books — all this week — and, finally, his good friend Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize. When I noted that no one has been able to reach Dylan about the prize, Eggleston only said, “That’s typical.” They, of course, haven’t spoken about it, either. “I wish he’d call up,” he added.
Eggleston, however, isn’t one to miss a party. He was in New York from Memphis for a week of dinners, book signings, and events: Monday was Aperture’s benefit dedicated to his pioneering use of color in photography; tomorrow is the opening of his Zwirner exhibition. At 77, he’s still precise about his words and his time. He qualifies nearly all of his answers to questions with some variation of: “From what I know…,” “I suppose,” “I guess,” “Probably,” “Practically,” “Maybe,” or “I don’t think so.” And if he agrees or disagrees, he just might say nothing at all. You could mix a drink during one of his pauses.
Paul Struijk explores the facial architecture of the Dutch capital with his Leica M10
Amsterdam is one of the most culturally diverse cities you will find anywhere on the planet. It was among the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th Century and ever since then immigrants from all over the globe have come to call Amsterdam their home. Amsterdamer, Paul Struijk, set out with his LeicaM10 to document the facial archetypes of the city’s residents and, in doing so, captured the diverse yet kindred nature of humanity in all its forms.
You studied an array of subjects from biology to archaeology and even classical dance. What was it that drew you to photography?
It was the creativity of the work. I needed to create things from the inside out and have the freedom to choose what I do. I also wanted to encounter new worlds, new people and new ideas.
How would you describe your photographic style?
My aim is to document. I try to find authentic images with a mix of old school and modern approaches. I like real life. I love people and how they try to make the best of it. I am absolutely a color person but over the last 2 years with my Leica, my photography has become more and more monochrome but always with a little shade of color, a little hint of a tone.
How did you get started in photography?
I started practicing photography in high school. Initially, I was interested in capturing the stage presence of musicians. When I went on to study photography at university, architecture and the urban landscape became prominent subject matter in my work, after being inspired by a summer trip I took to Italy.
How do you describe your photographic style?
My style has a graphic quality, focusing on the basic geometry of the landscape. I flatten the depth of an image by emphasizing contrast and colour and straightening lines in my editing process, making subject matter appear 2 dimensional.
What influences your current photography style?
Weather is a huge influence in my work. Overcast days are ideal for projecting an even distribution of light onto buildings, and for the stark white sky in the background to make the subject matter pop. It makes real life look 2D, much like I'm looking at the final image before I've shot it. To me, it makes everything look dream-like.
I'm also influenced by unique colours and textures of building materials, as well as looking at other photographer's images that have a similar style to mine for inspiration.
How do you decide between color and B&W?
I use black and white when I want the viewer to focus primarily on the form of the subject, where colour may be too distracting.
How do you decide what makes a good photo?
My work is very aesthetically driven, so foremost I want to make sure it's visually appealing to myself and the viewer. I also feel that a photo is successful when it captures a unique way of seeing something that may already be familiar. Maybe it makes the viewer question the reality of the image, or makes them more aware of their urban surroundings to see the everyday world in a new light.
What are you thinking when you take a photo?
When I take a photo, I’m thinking about using my perspective to visually reconstruct the subjects in the frame. I’m looking at how lines from one building may intersect with its surroundings, and what kind of visual relationships I can make by physically moving around the static built environment. It probably looks something like a bad step-by-step dance when I'm on the street, trying to line things up in the frame before I take the shot.
What keeps you going or gives you the inspiration to keep your photographic journey going?
There are so many places I have yet to explore and be inspired by, and this keeps me excited to keep producing my photography. I want to experience everything that I can in order to keep learning and moving forward, not only as an artist but also as an individual.
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us.
all images Candice Jinkie Portrait of Candice by photo by Alex Alexandra Votsis
We chat with local Photographer & Creative Jack Gibson about his love of photography and his thoughts on his practice.
How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera onto the film, chip or paper in just the way you want?
Patience, timing and sometimes luck. I definitely feel that observation is an acquired skill and the more you practice, the better you get at predicting an outcome. As well as this, it’s knowing the capabilities and limitations of the equipment that I’m working with. I know that I have specific lenses or cameras that are suited to specific conditions. I find it’s a matter of learning the gear and then using it appropriately. For example, my mirrorless camera doesn’t shoot at high ISO or my portrait lens isn’t coated for specific light conditions.
Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
I’ve spent countless hours listening to podcasts and interviews with various photographers from different backgrounds. I generally find that each individual has useful advice, regardless of whether they may shoot a similar style or something completely different to yourself. While I’ve taken notes from a whole range of working photographers who’s names I probably couldn’t remember now if I tried, there are definitely a few that I particularly hold in high regard. One of the most influential experiences for me personally was listening to Dan Milnor speak at a creative conference about 5 or so years ago. He shared his experiences from the field and some of his philosophy towards photography. This was definitely a turning point for me and inspired me to pursue what was only the start of a hobby at that point. Arto Saari is another favourite. I’ve always enjoyed his perspective and use of environment in his photography. Terry O’Neill, Richard Avedon and Jonathan Mannion for their portraiture. Beyond that, Elliott Erwitt is probably my all time favourite photographer and my favourite person to listen to.
Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you get your photographs to do that?
At this point there isn’t anything overly dramatic that I am trying to say through my photography. Day-to-day I like to focus on some of the smaller details that most people might overlook in their busy lives. Beyond that, I just try to take photos that portray the subject in their best light. I find that most people tend to judge themselves quite harshly or might be quite self conscious having their photograph taken. If the subject approves or is happy with the photo then I feel like I have succeeded. To make somebody feel good about them self through photography, to me, is quite an achievement. Overall, I’m really just enjoying taking photographs and improving my eye. If it ever turns into something more, thats great, if not, at least I’m having fun.
What was your creative path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing within your day job?
I’ve always had an interest in visual art and following my graduation from high school, undertook a creative degree at QUT. I had the opportunity to take a photography subject which was an area that I had always been interested in but didn’t really know how to approach. Within a month or so I had bought my first SLR. From that point I pursued photography as a hobby. Accompanied with perusals of graphic design, I was offered a role as a product photographer. From there, everything snowballed. I decided I wanted to improve as a photographer and started shooting for social media and developing a portfolio. As my interest in photography peaked, I experimented with various digital cameras, as well as some 35mm and 120mm.
What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best, as you photograph?
I shoot across a few different cameras but overall, simplicity works best for me. Having experimented with a range of digital and film cameras, I think I’m at a stage now where I’m fairly happy and comfortable with my setup. One 35mm, one medium format, mirrorless for street and SLR for product, studio and any other pursuit that requires speed and accuracy. I generally process through Lightroom with minimal adjustments. I definitely feel that the closer I can get to the final product in camera, the better.
How do you get paid to do what you want to do with your photography?
Luck and hard work. I’ve been lucky enough to know people who have provided me with work through my education and supported my progression as a creative/photographer over the past few years. Of course, I’ve worked hard to produce the highest standard of work possible and continue to try and raise the bar. I spend a lot of my spare time trying to improve which I think is necessary as a creative. I definitely have a passion for the craft that motivates me to work hard and continually improve, both for myself and for my employers.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?
I have always been more of an observer than participator. The older I get the more I accept and embrace this fact and I think that is what motivates me to keep shooting. I’ve found a pastime that coincides with my personality and has held my interest for quite a few years now. My greatest motivation now is to improve. I’d like to keep photography in the forefront of both my work and personal life and I believe I have a long way to go before I can confidently say that I‘m a “professional”. Whether I am getting paid or not, I’d still be taking photos. I guess that indicates that there’s an emotional side to the motivation.
Where would you like to be in 5 years …..?
It’s hard to say where I’d like to be specifically in five years. I feel like I’m still very much in the early stages as a photographer. There’s still a lot I want to learn and styles that I’d like to try. Having said that, five years is a considerable amount of time that I would happy dedicate to progression. I’ve heard Jonathan Mannion say a number of times that one defining difference between an average photographer and a great photographer is the knowledge of craft. This is one thought that has always stayed with me and I’d hope that in five years, I could be at a stage with my photography that exemplifies a strong knowledge and commitment to the craft.
Cheers Jack thanks for your time.
website | instagram
Interview by Nina Manandhar
Nine years in the making, Mahtab Hussain‘s latest exhibition ‘You Get Me?’ is both a testimony to the amount of time required to create a body of work of this breadth but also to his own artistic commitment to a line of enquiry. What began as series of chance encounters on the streets of his hometown of Birmingham in 2008 evolved into a journey across the UK on a mission to create a fuller picture of what it means to be a British muslim working class man today.
Hussain sees his work as firmly rooted in a tradition of British portraiture, citing his time working at the National Portrait Gallery and his MA at Goldsmiths in Art History where he specialised in Post Colonial studies as equally influential in shaping his understanding of transformative possibilities in art, but also enabling him to experience first hand the lack of work reflecting the British – Asian experience. Seen together, they explain his drive to pursue projects which create a place for his subjects in visual history, to fill a gap where representation is either missing or a product of misinformation.
With his subjects now immortalised in an upcoming book published by Mack alongside the exhibition this May at Autograph ABP, his term long-term engagement with the community and empathy with his sitters has clearly paid off, ‘I don’t think work can be made any other way, it is about getting to know one another, sharing stories’ he tells me. Ahead of the show, we spoke to Hussain about the enduring power of fine art portraiture, masculinity in the 21st Century and the complex relationship between identity, heritage and displacement, themes which his work navigates.
The release for the exhibition describes the portraits as exploring the identity of young ‘Working class’ – rather than just ‘Asian’ men. Can you talk a little about the idea of ‘class’, ‘working class’ and why it’s an important factor in the work?
I believe class plays a critical role in understanding the work. In general, the working class communities of Britain have had to go through real change, essentially from the 80’s onwards which itself was an incredibly destructive time for British society as a whole. Margaret Thatcher and her government purposely broke down community and fostered the idea that there is no such thing as society, livelihoods were destroyed and the unions were dismantled. We were told we should embrace the individual in Britain and the self-made man and woman, which was in direct conflict with the working class concept of community, sisterhood, brotherhood and family. From a migrant perspective, this notion of individualism crushed one of the defining pillars of their culture too, one that advocated for a strong, supportive, collective society, so this era jarred with them considerably as they eventually experienced the same loss of community and society, alongside harbouring feelings of alienation.