How did you get into photography?
I have been passionate about photography for about 10 years but I have loved photographs for most of my life. I have always been fascinated with looking at old photographs – especially of my own family. However, it wasn’t until my son was born almost 8 years ago that I was compelled to pick up my camera on an almost daily basis (I think this is a very common theme that runs with many photographers). I started with a 35mm film camera, progressed onto a digital slr and now I am back to using film – this time medium format and on occasion large format.
Why black and white photography?
Simply because I love it. It is raw, it is romantic and it’s evocative. A lot of my photography is based upon my childhood memories, (fleeting moments and sensations) and black and white evokes this beautifully. For me, the black tones represent the actual childhood event – distant and hard to see in the literal sense. The white/grey tones are the memory held within the adult mind – that flash of light, that fleeting thought – intransigent and surreal.
How do I choose my subjects?
This is an easy one. My children. They are a huge and constant inspiration to me. They are beauty personified and perfection. My children are used in my photography in two different ways. First, I photograph them to record their lives – to keep that very important family history book going (my initial reason behind my love of photography). However, I also use my children as models for my own projected feelings of childhood.
What is your work about?
Some of my images, such as ‘playtime’ are deeply personal and based upon childhood memories – I had a real feeling of being isolated from the world as a child. I had problems with my hearing – nothing physical but psychologically I would not hear anyone – it was my way of detaching myself from the world. This was largely due to the divorce of my parents when I was four years old. ‘Carousel’ is based upon a fairground day trip in which my alcoholic father put my younger sister and myself on a ghost train (we were aged 4 and 6 years old) on our own and stood laughing when we were stuck inside screaming with fear. I think a lot of my work is about examining the chasm that can exist between the parent/adult and the child. My photography, I hope, is about feeling – how I felt at the time as opposed to what actually happened. One thing I have discovered by sharing my work with others is that they are not just my feelings and memories but many other peoples too.
What is your creative process?
My physical creative process is easy to describe. My emotional creative process is more difficult to define.
At the present time I am working with a Hasselblad 500c medium format camera. I usually use Ilford HP5 an d FP4 roll film. I develop all my negatives and originally would print in the darkroom, however lately I have discovered Giclee digital printing and hahnemuhle photo rag paper which is really beautiful and suits my work perfectly. Although I scan my negatives I would never alter my images in ways that I personally couldn’t do in the darkroom .. I will work on contrast … dodging and burning etc, but never change the original intention of the photograph. I find that being able to scan my negatives a great way of being creative as a mother of two young children and a university course to fit in. However, this will no doubt change again very soon as I am about to embark on a course on alternative printing and will go back to trying out large format photography – again something that I think will suit my work.
As for the emotional creative process I think I have touched upon this already. As I have said, a lot of my work is drawn upon childhood memories. Images such as ‘playtime, isolation, Carousel, abandoned and waiting’ are all images that I had in mind before I pressed the shutter. The image ‘waiting’ was created for my university course. We had to do ‘constructed images’ for one of our modules. This image represents the feeling I would have waiting for my father to visit me on a Sunday afternoon .. that apprehension and finally disappointment I felt when he didn’t show up. Other work, such as ‘Standing in my Shadow’ and ‘Candlelight’ for example were moments seized .. I saw my son or daughter doing something in a particular light usually and I would be lucky enough to know to take the picture.
I suppose that is about it really. My work is deeply personal on one level and yet I am also distanced from it in the way that I am from my past. I have an odd relationship with life and photography … I love life on so many levels and yet I cannot fully become involved with it, photography allows me say how involved I want to be. Photography allows me to speak without opening my mouth. And I love that.