I am a Polaroid photographer currently based in the UK, but with a strong tendency to travel often and with an aspiration to bounce around the globe more permanently. My past education is centred around Illustration and Design having worked professionally within each field in the past before venturing into secondary school education, in which i worked to share my experiences and technical knowledge with future generations.
Creativity and self-expression have always been important to me and I have trained and worked within a number of visual fields in the past and have been exhibited internationally as a result. Painting, Illustration, Collage, Animation, Design, Branding and Fine Art Installations are all fields in which i have dabbled in order to satisfy the ongoing lust and compulsive need for self-exploration and existential questioning. It is this diverse range of experimentation that allowed for a successful career as an educator. The medium in which I have worked has always simply acted as a tool for me to direct my inner feelings, observations and thoughts in an outwards fashion in order to be able to communicate such concepts to others in a way in which words would fail me. I have previously occupied a sense of frustration in attempting to find a process that gelled with my personality and personal instinct for expression with each area occupying faults of its own that made me move on.
Photography is something that has naturally always interested me and is something that I had toyed with on occasion through the use of several DSLR's, though i found the results and process lacklustre and ineffectual. An innate need to observe and to capture the experiences and views of the world and the individuals within it that i interacted with was something that I knew could be afforded to me by the use of a lens.
Following a very dark and tumultuous period in the recent past of my life, I began to look for new ways to re-kindle my instinctive need for creation and the longing for understanding and solace that came through such experiments, and a refurbished Polaroid SX-70 that I had been gifted presented itself as the perfect distraction. I quickly learnt that not only was it a fun and tactile piece of equipment to use, but that it also offered me experiences and results that matched my needs perfectly.
The unpredictability of the film and camera was at first frustrating but also challenging and rewarding and drove my determined nature to continue to experiment further. The inability of the operator to make any mistakes due to the cost and limited quantity of exposures added to the need for careful, astute and educated observation, that began to instil a different perspective of the world and a closer eye for detail. The soft, muted colours of the film displayed a painterly quality that could not be replicated through any other means, and was very satisfying and rewarding to balance correctly. Importantly, the film also developed within 40 minutes without the need for extra processing which satisfied both my impatient nature, and need for novelty and excitement in observing an image developing. I quickly learnt that for the time being at least, it was this medium in which i found that I could express my artistic voice most effectively within. A limitless range of subjects and an alternate process of creation from my past as an Illustrator and Designer that focussed more upon real world interaction and careful observation, felt like a natural fit for my choice of experiences and my personality. I finally began to feel that it was possible to express the tragedy, happiness, emotion and beauty that i observed within the world in order to better understand it myself.
Through near constant experimentation, that began only a few months ago, I started to cyclically refine my visual voice through self-reflection, trial and error and repeated shooting. Aesthetic qualities began to emerge and themes began to develop, to a point at which I am now beginning to become more content with narrowing my focus upon particular qualities on which to hone my skills. The range of possibilities, does however combat the potential for boredom that I have encountered in the past with other mediums. I am of the belief that photography has offered me an absolutely necessary cathartic process at a time in which i needed it the most. Historical feelings of isolation, missunderstanding and alienation of been combatted through self-refleciton, sharing and the kind feedback of the associated community. Pain, sorrow and hurt has been therapised through moving my attention to beauty and hope with my lens, a strong sense of connection and of mutual understanding has been developed through sharing my work with others.
I have since learnt that self-expression is an absolutely essential means of survival for myself, and that such self-reflection that is formulated and focussed pays crucial dividends for my well being. This is an area that I had previously neglected and thankfully for the foreseeable future, my camera collection provides endless opportunities for me to continue to better my self understanding.
I definitely observe some level of retention in terms of creative approach and shoot planning from my previous experiences within Illustration and Design. Inspiration and concepts often arise from my own inner feelings and thoughts, informed further my music and cinema, with my work often acting as a means of representing and communicating with my own inner conflict or perceptions. Once an initial concept is born, I may produce sketches, write down key words, or begin to build a more rounded mental picture of the shot in question, associated locations and shots. I will then carry out limited planning in order to facilitate such a shot, however I do not constrict and restrict myself when enacting upon the initial vision, with flexibility and organic decisions remaining crucial to the outcome in order to ensure that it is reflective of that moment. I prefer for my mind to flow without obstruction when shooting, and for language and interpretation to remain absent when involved in the physical act of shooting. This balance of course changes significantly when carrying out commercial work, in which case I will refer back to my formally trained approach of concept development and delivery.
Remaining in tune with my feelings and the surroundings and the physical moments that encourage such moments is a key factor within the development of my work and a natural element of my highly analytical and reflective nature. I have always been an individual that has observed life in a slightly cinematic and romantic fashion, with moments of intense emotion or serendipity being unpredictable but essential to capture. This is when my method of production wavers from that with which I have been formally trained and the resultant images are left to chance and happenstance. As an observant individual my camera allows me to define a moment or feeling as i perceive it at that exact moment in time, for me to then keep a visual record of it or to build upon it at a later date. I am subsequently able to develop a catalogue of refined imagery that builds a rounded picture of my experiences of the human condition.
Sometimes shots that have some level of planning are more successful and vice versa. A spontaneous shot may be rushed and lacking in technical or symbolic refinement, but contrastingly may occupy a rawness and accessibility that can not be observed within more 'polished' shots. Roger Ballen gave me some personal advice with regards to his practise that I have since utilised. He described the act of successful shooting as transporting the mind to an abstract and unclouded plane of thought, that creating an image with a particular verbal of visual focus can often result in the production of a bad image that is limited in its effect and purpose. As such I try and consciously ease my mind and leave analysis until the shutter has been pressed where possible.
I have not yet experimented with other analog alternatives, although I admire and follow the work of many talented creatives who work in a wide variety of other analog mediums and take great inspiration from their outcomes. Due to the limited time in which I have currently had to experiment with the medium and to hone my craft, I have not yet found the need or desire strong enough to venture into other film techniques. I am an individual that enjoys the challenges associated with attempting to master, or at least become proficient, at a new skill and means of artistry, and Instant film continues to offer me opportunities for development and experimentation for the foreseeable future.
I find it difficult to explain or define how my practical inspirations and directions develop. Boredom is a key influence, along with the thoughts and inspiration sought and gained from inspirational and imaginative makers of a variety of fields. A number of other specific mediums will no doubt eventually find their way into my craft as it organically develops over time and with patience. I wish to express myself and my experiences and connections the best I can in tune with the way in which i experience and view the world, whatever mediums best suit this will be the ones that I use.
I was exhibited internationally as a Fine Artist/Illustrator during my former years as a creative. My work always blurred boundaries between different formal schools of creative practise as I learnt and chose to take different things from each that aided my individual creative voice, and I found it difficult to define myself as a practitioner. I developed a range of pieces that incorporated a variety of techniques and mediums and I were difficult to describe at the time of creation. Animal bones, leather, paint, typography, digital illustration and animation all came together to create an odd mix of visual influences that combined as a means for self-expression. I was taking on board so many varying influences and experimenting with so many different techniques that it was difficult to define my own vision and to identify what direction I wanted within my own work.
I was awarded an emerging Fine Artist award upon leaving university by a regional arts body, despite having formally trained as an illustrator. My work was displayed in a number of large regional galleries as part of group and themed exhibitions and my work was also displayed in both France and Germany. I also developed a number of exhibitions with close friends/partners during the same period. Despite having always having enjoyed creating work as an outsource of my own feelings and need for understanding, it was always composed with an audience in mind, and as such the experience of displaying my work within a variety of locations and contexts was not something that was alien or unusual to me. I feel that this was born in part due to my training as a designer in appropriating work for a commercial audience and brief.
Even during my time at university, upon completing a brief and developing a final outcome I would always hand frame it and place it on the wall for critique so that others could physically interact with it and view it as a isolated and tactile entity.
When establishing work with an audience in mind, my mind is partially consumed by the suitability of the image in question to the preferences of the relevant audience but my primary concern is my instinct and feelings surrounding the moment and the composition in question.
I would not choose to forcefully work outside of my artistic tendencies were it to feel artificial and unnatural should critique request it. I enjoy the thrill of working outside of my comfort zone with new techniques, and this can be both encouraged and enhanced by critique and feedback but I would not look to stray too distantly from the the pretenses and connection that I have grown to develop with both my work and camera. I have a small number of close friends who regularly act as my first point of reference for critiquing my images and I trust their judgement. Whilst I do not always agree with them, their suggestions and ideas often contribute to bettering my work before it is shared with the the wider world.
Acting as co-curator of Hylas Magazine is a process and a position that I thoroughly enjoy, and provides me with the opportunity to engage with an exciting array of work both through desire and responsibility.
Phoebe Barrett ( founder of Hylas) and myself both occupy relatively similar visual taste, and have worked closely together and have identified a relatively similar vision. We do however do our utmost to ensure that submitted work is viewed as objectively as possible and that work is not selected purely because of our own individual preferences. Variety of technique and aesthetic is something that is desired, and as such I am able to embrace a wide range of inspirational techniques that can then have a bearing upon my own work. Each submitted image is judged on its own merits and qualities regardless of the maker and whether they have submitted previously or have been featured in the past. In the case of the themed collections much interest can be found in terms of identifying the artists interpretation of the very broad themes and the freedom that this can allow them conceptually and thematically, which can then influence my own thinking moving forwards.
A significant level of travel awaits me in the near future, inclusive of trips, breaks and emigration to another country. A change of routine and environment is essential for my wellbeing and happiness as well as my creativity, a lack of fresh environmental stimuli and challenge often leads to personal mental and creative stagnation and ultimately unhappiness.
I have a number of ongoing professional projects that will be incorporated into these movements, however my key focus and drive is to employ my cameras as a means to document the personal changes and experiences that arise through a result of a nomadic way of living and of a freedom of mind and occupation. The difficulties of alien surroundings, isolation within new cultures and the strive for sure footing and survival brings with it a clarity of mind and a need for observation. I find that these qualities work symbiotically when creating artwork in that the camera acts as a means of steadying the mind and embracing the chaos, forcing progression change and challenge.