Back in March I did a test shoot with Sophie, it was a beautiful day filled with sunshine (and a few gales but hey, free wind machine). I’d seen Sophie work with a few other photographers and thought she had such a beautiful and unique look. I was thrilled when we could get a shoot arranged. It was a pretty short shoot but I was impressed by Sophie’s professionalism and how she threw herself into the shoot. It’s great to finally get these images up and I’m excited to work with Sophie again in the future.
You know what the best thing about having creative, talented pals working in other mediums?
You get to see the awesome things they create.
Marquess is a project by Elizabeth Elliott, focusing on making fine handmade garments with a nod to historical styles and techniques. The collection she created for her MA collection was breathtaking in it’s simplicity and beauty. We’d been wanting to shoot it for a while and finally the stars aligned in December and we got the chance to finally document these garments.
This shoot was a dream, possibly one of my favourite fashion shoots ever and we had an awesome team to help bring this to life. Hannah was a great model, with the look and attitude to pull off being a modern day Goddess. She also deserves major credit for dealing with the cold so well despite wearing some pretty sheer outfits, she is a braver woman than I.
Before Christmas I had the pleasure of working with Hannah Crystal on two shoots, one for a new designer brand and the other was a test shoot for a personal project I’m thinking about working on in the coming year. We shot at Nunnsyard Gallery in Norwich which is a brilliant space for not only shows, but shoots. This shoot was a lot of fun, both in terms of team and the process. I don’t use colour gels nearly enough.
This project has been lingering in my mind for a few months, but as of yet I’m not sure how it will progress as it is a departure from my usual style of photo and also my usual research paths.
The problem I’ve often found is that I have a range of interests, from the intersection of time, memory and place to the more abstract notions of the sublime, the uncanny and it’s sisters, the weird and the eerie. With a love for the scientific, natural history and folk horror, I’ve often had a hard time trying to define my practice as one thing.
Ultimately, I’ve come to the realisation that my practice is in part a reflection of my personality and interests, both of which are electric and that it can be a good vehicle to explore these wide ranging ideas in a way that can better focus my research. So, I’ve begun feeling out the foundations of another project inspired by another of my great loves: science fiction.
Science fiction has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; growing up in a household where my family enjoyed shows such as Star Trek and listening to Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds. It was during my MA I began exploring that influence on my work and my interest in making work via this lens as science fiction. It can be a great genre to explore current and contemporary concerns which allows for an analytical distance. For that project I collaborated with concept artist Holly McGergor and between us we created the world of ‘Schism’, an interdisciplinary research and practice project bridging the worlds of photography and games concept art.
Exploring ideas of divergent paths of human evolution and the tension between the progression of modern technology and a pull away from what could be considered natural; Schism was a fun project to work on and wetted my appetite to explore the use of science fiction themes, aesthetics and tropes within future projects.
Over the last year of working in a commercially focused practice, I’ve not paid much attention to my personal projects, which is something I want to redress this year. In terms of progress from this shoot, I’m not sure what direction this will go, but it’s been fun getting back into the habit of stretching the creative muscles.
Boxing Day my father and I went for a walk along the coast to Happisburgh. A space which fascinates me and terrifies in equal measure, where you can witness the sea reclaiming the land and leaving only traces of it’s existence. It was in this space that the reflection on this year I’ve been attempting to outrun finally caught up with me.
This year has been a mixed bag, it’s also passed in a strange way. Feeling still and stagnant up until May and then suddenly it’s December. I started 2018 with a clear idea of where I was going, what I wanted to achieve and who I wanted to be, now I’m standing at the precipice of 2019 and have no such clarity. But what I lack in clarity for my future plans I’ve made up for in a quiet confidence that has been absent for many years; more importantly, I feel confident in my work again which is a good place to develop from.
For most of this year I was attempting to contort my work (and myself) into a certain mould of what I thought a commercial photographer should be. I put all the things that truly interest me in a box and ignored them in favour of trying to create an Instagram worthy ‘creative’ lifestyle and business, which was devoid of one key thing; me. Ultimately, if that’s your bag then great, different horses for different courses, but it’s not me as much as I try to fit that mould. After a couple of disastrous portfolio reviews that shattered my confidence in my work, a silver lining came in the form of Folio Friday at the Photographer’s Gallery. I signed up on a whim, the night before I didn’t sleep and on the train down I had anxiety attacks before drifting off due to exhaustion.
There’s something profoundly scary about presenting your work for critique, but it’s a necessity because fresh perspectives are always valuable. It’s something you take for granted in art school. Turns out my fears were unfounded, this event was genuinely wonderful. It started with talks by Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz and Steve Macleod then we got the opportunity to talk with all the other photographers in attendance. Never underestimate the value of being able to form communities (even if they are temporary) with other creative practitioners; being able to share images, ideas and experiences with people who get it makes you feel less isolated . It was brilliant to see a diverse array of practices and having the opportunity to present my work to other photographers, gallery staff and the public. I walked away with some great feedback, more assured in my practice.
There’s one piece of feedback though that has hung in my mind since, it was perhaps the most difficult to respond to as it was a fairly probing question to do with who am I and which version of myself is being presented in the work. I still don’t have an answer, and I’m not sure I will any time soon but it’s a project in progress and who knows, this time next year I might.
In terms of my plans for 2019…well there aren’t really any. What I do know is that I want to take all the things that interest me out of the box and get back to making the work I’ve been avoiding for the last year because I miss doing weird things, like filling jars with oil and dead plants for the sake of photographs. The other vague idea is to start writing about these things again.
To blog or not to blog, that is the quandary. For a long time I’ve wanted to write, about photography, about life, and a few other disparate subjects, but I’ve always been a deep fear of actually doing it. Concerned that my words would not be perfect enough, that there isn’t enough of a connecting thread between my interests or that it’s not niche or commercial enough to be worth reading. I’ve made a few attempts in the past but every time I end up deleting it because it’s it doesn’t measure up to the impossible standards in my head.
So this time around I’m being brave and throwing my voice into the void, imperfect, unpolished and dedicated to all the weird things that pique my curiosity and drive my practice.