Monthly Archives: May 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Jure Kastelic

Tell us a bit about yourself and your photography?

I am a 19-year-old student of photography here in Brighton. I really wanted to study photography abroad and then suddenly my wish came true. In 2010, I printed the ‘Honeymoon’ book that is one of the most successful things that I’ve ever done. The book was presented last year at Paris Photo and then sold into numerous collections in London, Tokyo, somewhere in Colorado… After that I was sure that I don’t want to do anything else than photography. In Slovenia, where I am from, we only have smaller photography courses mostly commercially oriented. So I applied to 5 different courses in the UK and sent them pictures from the book. I was accepted on all five so I picked Brighton and moved.

Your series ‘Honeymoon’ is made up of photographs where individuals have been cut out of the images, leaving a white space in their place. What is this series about?

Initially, this project started as, I thought, a charming gesture for my parents. This was the first time that my family had been on a substantial trip abroad; my parents had not even had a honeymoon. With this in mind I decided to give them one. I used my father’s film camera, which he would have probably used if he had been on his real honeymoon trip. I cut myself and my brother out of the photographs, as we would not have been born yet.

The series hopefully becomes a simulation that questions the medium itself and also the basic function of the photographic camera that is to eternalize a memory. Digital photography is now cheaper than ever. Everything is worth documenting. In the flood of imagery memories are more fragile; it became harder to pertain a certain memory to an image of an event. But on the other hand, film stills have the same power of representing something nostalgic, even if it didn’t happen. They are something known and common, but white silhouettes suggest that the whole project is simulated.

How would you describe your style of photography?

I would say that so far I have not developed a photographic style and I am not planning to in the near future either. In the last three projects I was more interested in fiction. But still, with every series of photographs I have a different idea and a different approach. Maybe that can be my photographic style?
I like to think that the most important thing in photography is a unique idea or a concept. I modify and choose my medium of making (it can be an old film camera, a webcam or some found images) with the concept in my mind. Before I have an idea in my head or on paper I will never even touch my camera. It is weird because most of my friends work the other way around (pictures first and then the idea). I tried to work like that too, but everything was so pretentious and sadly average.


Are you working on any projects at the moment?

At the moment I am in a thinking process for a new project that questions our perception of religion, nudity and other heavy themes. I have a few funny ideas about cultural relativism for now but I have to figure out how to make things work together as a project. I am planning to use a medium format camera and found imagery but I am still seeking for ways to be original. Other than that, I plan to expand my projects that I made for my course and give them more time to grow. We have to submit four projects in eight months for the university, which is sometimes hard to do. I am also planning to collaborate with two of my coursemates, just to be ‘photography fit’ through the summer and maybe something bigger comes out later. I am also in discussions about printing my latest project as a ‘zine’.

What is your biggest photographic aspiration/goal?

In a few years I would like to make a decent living from what I am doing now. I would like to continue with my projects, make books, have exhibitions, read about photography, maybe do some assignments, sell a few prints, etc. I would like to continue with that, but in a bigger scale, more constant, and I hope some day, more financially successful.

More of Jure’s work can be found here

Interview With The Artist – Toby Deveson Talks Photography

In conjunction with Toby’s photographic exhibition ‘Skills, Smells and Spells’ opening on the 29th of May at The Strand Gallery, we asked him some all important questions.

You are a devout analogue enthusiast, in what ways has this affected your career as a photographer (if at all)?

When I left Art College in the early 90s digital photography didn’t really exist. I spent about 5 years trying to make a living from my photography but never really managed to earn enough money to make it worthwhile so I started working as a television cameraman. It is only in the last couple of years that I have decided to turn my mind back to making money from my stills.

The initial effect of digitalization on me was one of convenience: Websites, postcards, emails, scanners and printers all offered huge time saving and money saving possibilities.

The downside – because there is always a downside – has been the loss of materials. It was not so much that shops stopped selling the products I used and needed, but more that manufacturers stopped making them.

And the effect this has had on me? An old school, devout analogue photographer? I have merely continued to do what I love and refused to succumb to the so called quicker, easier, cheaper, more convenient and better option. To remove the chemicals, darkroom and labour from the equation would be to fundamentally change what I do. I would no longer be doing what I love.

And who knows, perhaps the most fundamental affect this has had or will have on my work and career is that I have come to appreciate what I could so easily have lost. I have a renewed passion and a love for film and the darkroom – the smells, the frustrations, the results – and a determination to continue doing what I love, regardless of the expectation and demands from the commercial world.


- Bucuresti, Romania, August 1992

Could you explain what it is about analogue photography vs digital that excites and inspires you?

Put very simply – if that is at all possible – it is the journey you go on.

The destination may be what is seen and admired, but no destination can be savoured and appreciated without the journey. It is the journey that makes you truly appreciate what you have achieved.

Every step of the way is tinged with magic, fear, wonder, beauty and frustration.

It is magical that when I mix some chemicals and pour them onto the film, this moment I captured with a split second decision, magically appears. The position of my camera, the moment I instinctively opened the shutter appears before me once again thanks to this mysterious alchemy.

And yes, this happens with a digital camera, but with film, I take the photograph and move on, I change the film, I put it away, I carry it with me through countries, I hold it close to me, I fight the fear as it goes through x-ray machines, I catalogue it when I get home, I forget all about the specific split second decisions I made.

And it continues – the struggle to find the will power to print the contact sheets, a crucial stage in the journey, yet one so easily over looked, skipped for more immediate gratification.

The selection process – another stage that is so easily skimmed over now you can upload hundreds of images onto flickr, expecting the viewer to edit your shots.

And then the printing, the frustrations, the need for a perfect print – just one more go, one more try, lighten the face slightly, darken the sky.

And now, with the exhibition, the final stage – the framing and presenting of the images, in all their (here’s hoping) glory.

And what satisfaction, what trials and tribulations, what depths of despair, peaks of euphoria, moments of frustration – what a journey.

Your photography has taken you around the world to some amazing places, can you tell us about somewhere that really inspired you and why?

Yes, I am lucky enough to have been to some amazing places and to have been present at some awe-inspiring moments, but I think the thing that stays with you is that it is not necessarily the big momentous occasions or majestic landscapes that inspire you. Majesty and awe can be present anywhere and everywhere, and sometimes it is only later, much later, when your journey is complete that you realise just exactly what it is you were photographing.

And of course sometimes you know then and there just how privileged you are and what a wonderful moment you are living through:

Photographing laughing smiling children in Romania, knowing all the while you are in an AIDS hospice.


- Romania, April 1991

Being high in the mountains, completely and utterly alone, coming to terms with your insignificance and yet feeling like you are the centre of the universe. An internal contradiction so fierce you feel the need to curl up and whimper.

The sheer danger and scale of the Himalayas. The freedom felt riding a motorbike round the hairpins down the side of a mountain at 4000 metres, through melting snow and ice…

…all inspiring, and all re-lived on every level every time I print one of the photographs.

Your recent project was Crowd Funded, how did you get involved with that? Was it a success?

Crowdfunding was intense, That is the only way to describe it.

It was a huge amount of work, constantly pushing it on twitter, facebook, by email…hassling friends and strangers. It was a long, long way outside my comfort zone.

You could never call it a failure, even if you don’t raise enough money, because the money you do raise, the money people do contribute – be it a tenner or a couple of hundred pounds – is so valuable and important that the campaign must always be considered a success.

Luckily I didn’t opt for an all or nothing type of crowdfunding. I was allowed to keep all the money I raised even if I didn’t reach my target. Which was lucky, because I didn’t! But I did raise a considerable amount of money for what is a reasonably specialist project, so I was hugely moved and grateful to everyone who helped.

Do you hand print all of your photos before transferring them to a digital format?

Yes. A short answer!

There is no such thing as a perfect negative. For me anyway, to scan a neg and then work on it in Photoshop would be a waste of time. I find it much easier to print in the darkroom and then use a flatbed, cheap(ish) scanner. Then it is just a question of adjusting the white and black levels in Photoshop, playing with the contrast and doing what I can to bring the image as close to the original as I can.

What’s can we expect to see from you in the coming year?

I have no idea! This exhibition will hopefully open a few paths for me. Ideally I would like to find some gallery representation, some more venues to tour the exhibition to and of course I am always looking to take more photographs.

I am working on two projects at the moment. The first, West of the Sun, has been bubbling along nicely for a few years. It is essentially a collection of landscapes from around the world that has grown and taken shape over the last 15 years or so and is crying out to be exhibited or published in its own right.

The second, Festivities, was kick started by my time in India photographing Holi. I was fascinated by the history, the emotions and the intensity of the celebrations. The idea to photograph and document similar cultural and unique occasions just grew and took shape.


- Holi Festival, India, March 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Bridget Collins

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your photography?

I am originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and now live in Brooklyn, New York. I recently graduated from Pratt Institute where I received my BFA in Photography. I have always been interested in the idea of constructing memories, creating a document of my experience that is only slightly based in reality. I like how the process of photographing something puts you at a distance from it, reveals the strangeness of things you wouldn’t normally look twice at. My photos reflect a weird, half-imagined, half-real version of my life, sort of like a memoir.

Your series ‘Earth’ and ‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’ are playful and beautifully observant, tell us about them?

Both of these projects stemmed from an interest in finding simple answers to complex problems, specifically existential ones that aren’t physically tangible. I developed an interest in guides, things like maps and self-help books, which organize and explain overwhelmingly complex systems. These systems, that shift and change but are regarded as constant, create a sort of Doppler effect of looking at the world; meaning becomes distorted relative to time.

I became interested in the physicality of the guides, of photographs, and the dynamic between still objects and living things. I want to understand how things can be both slow and fast, constant yet always changing. In my photographs I hope to create a new dialog between commonplace objects and events, as if to document what happens when you’ve spent too much time alone in your room and your belongings start to talk to you.



Are you working on any projects at the moment?

I have a few editorial projects I’ve been working on, but those are secret until published. I’ve also been traveling for a little bit and taking photos of plants in hotels. I visited a hotel that has 19 floors and on every floor they have a single, different potted plant outside of the elevator. I photographed them all and am thinking of compiling them into a book, potentially a very boring one.

What is your biggest photographic aspiration/goal?

My experience with exhibiting photographs is rather limited, so I would love to put on more shows and explore new ways of exhibiting photography.

I have a folder on my computer that has all my “bad”
photographs on it; outtakes, missteps, and things deemed unworthy for following through on. This folder has thousands of images in it. I would love to compile these into a really nicely printed book, then seal it shut so no one can ever open it.

More of Bridget Collins’ work can be found here.

Next Week – Lettie Blackett

  

- Labourer, Kerala                                                    -  Mother and Children, Jodhpur

SPOTLIGHT: Christopher Bethell

Please tell us a little about yourself and your career so far as a photographer?

For a long time I have been obsessed with urban exploration and the concept of the ruin.

Urban Exploration in case you’re not aware, is the act of wanting to see the unseen. This involves venturing into derelict sites such as hospitals, asylums, old military camps, power stations etc, wading downstream into vast networks of drains, climbing up cranes, finding your way onto city rooftops or any other interpretation of exploring the urban environment.

I began building two separate bodies of work based around the places I was seeing – one in daylight and one by moonlight. With these two bodies of work I have achieved a fair amount of success. The work ‘Ruins by Night’ has been signed by Millennium Images – a contemporary photography agency whose main clients are publishers; selling the images for book covers.

The other body of work has also been successful in that one of the photographs called ‘Partition Curtain, Ward, Kingsway Hospital’ came runner up in Blank Media’s The Title Art Prize last year, and has now been shortlisted for the AOP ‘student of the year’ award – which means that it will be exhibited in London in May!

Your work around the theme of abandonment is intriguing, what is the concept behind these works? What is it about these decaying buildings and objects which excite you?

My work considers the nature of wanting to see the unseen. I try to communicate the placid atmosphere that is experienced whilst exploring – a feeling that is amplified in such places as (derelict) hospitals in contrast to the noise of active ones.

Photography has changed what is commonly believed to be beautiful. Most would not wish to live (or even be) in these conditions, but once photographed they become an aesthetic fascination. My images try to describe the serene beauty of these buildings that are now devoid of purpose and is heavily inspired by the romanticism associated with the ruins of Rome. I simply seek this same conclusion from modern ruins.

‘When we contemplate ruins, we contemplate our own future.’
- Christopher Woodward, In Ruins.

Do you work with analogue or digital cameras? What’s the reasoning behind your decision?

I work with both, I consider each as a tool and I pick the right one for the job. If I have the opportunity to slow down, then I will usually opt for analogue. This is because I can shoot on either medium or large format; giving me much more detail than I would capture on a digital sensor. Working with such formats also allows you to spend as much time as you need on each shot; as opposed to digital when the tendency is to just keep shooting and hope you have one good shot amongst the hundreds.

Saying that though, most of my work has been digital due to the nature of exploring. Lighting conditions are constantly changing drastically and carrying several cameras with different film speeds in them is not practical. My digital performs well with low light and also allows me to capture shots that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Are you working on any projects at the moment? Tell us about it/them?

I have been commissioned by VICE magazine to shoot a documentary project on Manchester. They run a feature called ‘is a paradise’ where they commission photographers around Britain and America to document their city in an irreverent, ironic manner. The brief is to capture gritty, disgusting, shocking and amusing images of Manchester that aren’t shown by the tourist boards. I am looking back to the work of Nan Goldin and Tom Wood for some inspiration in social documentary whilst also looking at the work of Terry Richardson for the throw-away aesthetic that works so well with such a subject.

I am also about to start researching for a future project based around ghost hunters, mediums and psychics. The project will either take place in America or Britain depending on the funding that I will be able to get. I will be documenting their lives both when they are actively hunting and when they are just living their lives. I hope also to take them to some of the locations I have been to/scouted out so that I can document their relationship with the ruined environment in contrast to the Urban Explorers’ relationship.

What would you says is your biggest photographic aspiration/goal?

In a perfect world, I would find myself at Magnum Photos, New York in ten years – being sent off across the world to document important issues whilst working with some of the best photographers that there has ever been.

In the real world though, I would be very happy to find backing from a photography agency that believes in my work. My dream is to work without too much creative constraint and produce what is hopefully considered as ‘important work’.

www.christopherbethell.com

SPOTLIGHT: Bethan Wynton

Please tell us a little about yourself and your career so far as a photographer?

I am a fine art photographer currently living in North London. I studied Photography and Digital Imaging (HND) at Truro College, then graduated in Photography BA (Hons) from Falmouth University in 2011.

I exhibited in Falmouth in early 2010, at the Truman Brewery in the Raining Stare-rods graduate showcase last June, and more recently at Showcase Cities in Shoreditch. Shortly I will be exhibiting in the Crouch End Arts Festival.

My portfolio is always changing and growing. I’m compelled to record the things around me and my reaction to them. I keep my blog and website regularly updated with my latest work, competition entries and news of upcoming exhibitions.

I am inspired by change: seeing new places, meeting new people, participating in new experiences. I make images as a reaction to these experiences, and to focus on the view that may have gone unseen: sometimes hard and real, sometimes nostalgic. I want other people to find their own interpretation of my images, to build their own narrative, not simply mine.


Your series Liquid Light is beautiful and intriguing, what is the concept behind this series?

The series “Liquid Light” marks a turning point, a further maturing of my practice. It invokes deep personal memory by focussing on everyday detail, the minutiae that brings a time, a place, a person to life, as might a familiar tune or a waft of perfume.

The painterly quality achieved by using silver gelatin enhances the fragility of the image. Whilst the tonal range in analogue photography reflects the uncertain transitions of real life more truthfully than the hard borders that separate digital pixels.

As this series came together I realised how much I loved working with black and white film. Looking back I recognise this series marks the emergence of my own voice in photography, as a romanticised theme runs through a lot of my work.

Do you work with analogue or digital cameras? What’s the reasoning behind your decision?

Analogue is something I am always returning to: the grain, the mood, the depth of black and white film suits my photographic style. However, I challenge myself to use digital as well, because I believe it has its place in fine art photography and the options are endless for manipulating and enhancing the original image.

Are you working on any projects at the moment? Tell us about it/them?

Currently I am working on a project “From all walks of life” which sums up my curiosity of people and places, capturing their essence through examining specific details. I entered the Leica Oskar Barnack Award with a selection of the images I’ve produced for this project so far.

What would you say is your biggest photographic aspiration/goal?

While developing my technique and style, and building my reputation as a fine art photographer in London, I also intend to seek editorial/artistic commissions that suit my approach, especially travelling overseas.