Cyber Monday 2020 Deals For Photographers

Episode 1

xanda

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Episode 1

12 Jun 2008 12:12PM   Views : 438 Unique : 358

Arranging shoots has never been easy - I'm lucky if I get to do them at all. Life gets in the way. Somehow, despite all the stress, they get done and as time passes my portfolio (I was going to say 'oeuvre' but it's such a silly sounding word) gets bigger.

I usually wing it. Indoors or outdoors, I'll go with whatever I'm given. I've been lucky to work with people who are, for the most part, not fazed by this approach. Even new models quickly give up any hope of getting much in the way of assistance. I'm not a director but a photographer and where photography is concerned I much prefer reality. The poses have to come from the model. I guess I'm a candid documentarian at heart...or voyeur, depending on the subject and your point of view, and that always requires some distance. It's important to me, however, that I get on well with the people I photograph. I need them to trust me. And I hope to achieve at least a token intimacy by making them feel that it's ok for them to be themselves, and do what they will for the camera. Some pose more than others; some to such an extent that it is no longer posing in the strict sense but a natural expression of their own creative personality. Ruby comes immediately to mind.

The technicalities of getting pictures do not interest me. The camera is little more than a means to an end. As a rule I don't go into a shoot with any clear notion of the pictures that I want because I'm a martyr to serendipity. Sand from river beds is sifted in a bid to find gold and I approach photography the same way: grab as many shots as possible then sift through them and do the real work post capture. I'm not talking about photoshopping as much as the work of looking for those elusive subtlties of expression and body language. Those moments when, perhaps because I try to be as unobtrusive as possible, the model forgets I am there. I'm not trying to impress her or chat her up or demean her by suggesting unsavoury poses so maybe her mind wanders (maybe she gets bored) and from the artifice of an arranged shoot comes something unplanned - something real.

It's always a bit scary and I approach every shoot with the fear that what is already elusive will evade me altogether. The pressure is always there to improve in both quantifiable and qualifiable ways, and by extension to conform. I don't really want to conform; that is why the camera club mentality is anathema to me. I persist with (and enjoy) ePhotozine partly because the site has done a lot to keep me going through some of the most difficult years of my life and partly because you can't avoid something without knowing what it looks like. Ephotozine presents a broad spectrum of work in a (mostly) supportive environment. More than that, it is on this site that I have found other photographers who are not afraid to do their own thing, even if it is 'wrong' in the eyes of the majority.

It was the naturalistic approach of photographers like David Hamilton that most appealed to me when I was a teenager. To this day I admire his work (and the defence of it) more than most. It keeps me connected to my own past and reminds me that a low-tech approach (whether shooting on film or digitally) is the way to get what I want.

Like Hamilton I am interested in transition. His focus was puberty and adolescence. My interest lies a few years further on, at the socially-imposed check-point of adulthood at 18 and the years that follow. Talking to Holly on Sunday I finally appreciated the value of working with the same people over a protracted period of time: I want to see them change. It ought to have been obvious well before then but it wasn't. I've known Holly just a few months but in some respects she is changing the most or changing the fastest; I'm not sure which it is but I know that it will be fascinating to photograph her as she leaves college this year and ventures out into the world.

I was surprised to find that the work of Nan Goldin finally held some value for me. As I looked deeper, learned more about her approach and the intimacy of her relationships to the people she photographed (they were mostly family and friends), her work became the most valuable thing I could have hoped for: another boundary.

I am a long way from the kind of images I most want to take but I can sense them - I can almost pre-visualise some of them. If I see myself heading anywhere as a photographer it is to a point between Hamilton and Goldin. Even if I fail to reach that point, the journey ought to be worth something.

Tags: Photography Ruby Holly Models Xanda Inspiration Transitions Hamilton Goldin

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