Interview: 69 Smith Street Gallery

This is an interview I did for Philip Ingman of 69 Smith St Gallery, regarding my collection X-hibition, which was shown there October 3rd – 21st 2007.

Q. What started you off on this photographic journey?

DA. I have always been interested in photography, but I wanted to put my own stamp on the medium, not just replicate what others did. I started to experiment with different techniques, and found that I could create something unique which expressed what I wanted to say.

Q. Are there some photographers whose work you admire?

DA. Yes, definitely. Helmut Newton, Spencer Tunic, Peter Gorman are some.

Q. What part does the location of the shoot play in your work?

DA. The background is important to me, as it can set the emotional character of an image just as well as the model can. It has a character of its own. I tend not to use a studio, as to me it’s a false set up, and lacks the rawness and reality I’m looking for. I like to find a background which can either add a layer of contrast to a shot, or expand on an idea somehow. For example, sites of urban decay and abandoned buildings can speak of loss and rebirth, and the continual cycle which we are all caught up in. Other locations may be chosen for their linear perspective and repetition, which again in my mind ties in with the cycle of life.

Q. Why use the nude in the work?

DA. I place the nude in my work for a number of reasons. I like to use nude as the ‘constant’ in the image, to represent humanity. Clothes also seem to set a time period, so they get in the way of the sense of timelessness – or time confusion – which I wish to create. Also, since the nude has been used in art for centuries, I’m just continuing the tradition but trying to recreate it afresh. I also find the nude gives a headstart in immediately provoking a response from the viewer.

Q. In what way do you direct a model?

DA. Regarding the look of the model in a shot, I try not to over-direct, however I do try and instill an emotion when I shoot. I might give the model a scenario to think about, and this can come out in the expression in the face or angles in the body. I guess that’s the start point.

Q. Would you say that your intention is to speak a clear message through each work?

DA. I guess each series of shots has its own raison d’etre. There’s usually a story I’m trying to create or a social comment I’m hoping to get across. However I try hard not to overstate this, as I believe the viewer should be free enough to find their own response to an image. Often I’m surprised how a viewer may draw a certain solid conclusion about an image when I hadn’t thought of that aspect, but that doesn’t make it less valid. I think a viewer’s reaction can show much about their own emotional journey.

Q. Some of your work appears to be tongue-in-cheek, you must have fun on these shoots.

DA. Yes, sometimes in trying to tell a story we end up in some strange places. For example the image Cupboard to me was a social comment about how some men wrongly see a wife as either stuck to a stove, or just as a sexual object. Hence, I needed a body without a face stuck in a kitchen. Shooting was a lot of laughs and the model had a great time. I think the end result is a dual one, it’s a serious mood yes, but one can also rise above that – to laugh at the stupidity of those men you can also see a sense of humour coming through in the shot.

Q. Finally, what future plans do you have for your work?

DA. I’m continuing to build on the current series, and aim to have a book published to be available internationally…

Journal Comments

  • Melissa Vowell
  • D Allen
  • Kaitlin Beckett
  • robbah
  • darrenmars
  • D Allen