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FINDING PATTERNS IN THE ENTROPY OF LIFE
I think I have narrowed down five key life events that have had a major impact on what and why I photograph the way I do.
Ever since I can remember I have been mesmerised by works of art. I have always been drawn to the aesthetic, I feel an overwhelming wonder when looking at something beautiful.
My mother died in a car crash when I was two. I don’t mention something so sad to receive sympathy, but this is my life. I have a sense of something missing, a sense that I am living an alternative life. This, combined with my being an artist, makes me feel I am always on the edge of revealing something that eludes me. Losing my mother at such a young age gives me insight and empathy with others whose lives have a ‘disjoint’, a secret within; of whom there are many of us.
I was a secondary school teacher for twenty years. Being surrounded and engaged with adolescents for so many years has given me an ability to converse and connect with this particular group of society. A special and fascinating age, adolescents are at a time in life when they are searching for identity. An identity that will become the next generation.
I am particularly drawn to the vibrant, adventurous youth whose energy seems to be challenged by life circumstances.
My visits to India began my photographic journey. Through a partnership with my school in London, I visit and teach at Sri Jayendra school in Tamil Nadu. A school that educates many poor and orphaned children. Finding a compelling story tell, my creativity has met with a purpose. Also, Indians love to be photographed, so our relationship is symbiotic. They are not afraid of the camera. They stare into the lens proud of their worth, confidently affirming their place in the world.
I met and married a mountain bike guide, so I swapped the city for the desert and am now living in Moab, Utah. I do not travel to find photographs but rather seek out stories within the environment I, for whatever reason, find myself. Consequently, my project on cowboy was a result of me trying to better understand the country and culture in which I had just become a citizen.
Each one of these events has shaped the philosophy behind each photograph I take. I believe that the aesthetic is essential to representation. I want to take beautiful photographs. Yet with no concept or personal emotional truth, the aesthetic is redundant. Thus I have two simultaneous responsibilities, to the subject and to the visual. I strive to keep these in perfect harmony.
This philosophy dictates my process, a collaborative dance between me, the artist and life itself. It is a fine line to seek out the story and let it naturally reveal itself. After my initial photoshoot, I research and select like a crazy person. I then take my new insight and planned compositions to the next photoshoot, yet all the while staying open and alert to what the situation will offer. That offering is ultimately always more complex than my own concepts.
Photographing people adds extra pressure. There is friction, push and pull to be negotiated. I purposefully try to hand over the image to the subject, whilst I am continually aware that I am responsible for achieving the best portrayal of this very subject as possible.
Sometimes I merely observe and click as life proceeds. Other times, I try to construct situations within, and in line with, the given situation. This is why before a photoshoot I am anxious and afterward, often elated but also always exhausted.
I have two aims. To reassure and confirm ‘what was and what is’ but also to discover and reveal something that I wasn’t looking for, that I didn’t know even existed.
My ultimate aim is to elevate the person whom I am photographing.
What do I hope to achieve with all this?
By photographing people my camera gives me access to other people's lives that I otherwise would not have experienced. It allows me to reflect on someone else existence, to recognise part of myself in them. It helps me to find what I feel is eluding me, it makes me a richer person. It helps me build a stronger connection with my fellow humans. I search for the perfect photograph, an experience that reveals something about the human condition and the way in which we see. This journey helps me to view the world with a different and fuller vision.
Art helps you find patterns in the entropy of life.