The project idea originally stemmed from my interests in observational photography practises such as street photography and social documentary photography. Both individual practises that share no intimate connection with its subject. However, this is where a little contextual research into my own interests and hobbies became more than useful in developing my own photographic style and approach in this project. Knowing my restrictions, I began to look into what interests me not as a photographer but what inspires me musically. From there I backtracked to find inspiration photographically. I started off documenting the “behind the scenes” of the group as a whole itself in an attempt to highlight the hard work that is not usually seen in the music industry. But, as I soon I did this I realised by simply showing the moments of hard work and labour my project became more external, one sided and empty, I had no position or involvement within my work. From the beginning even with little direction I wanted this project to have some sentimental value to me as an artist, so I decided more research was needed to allow this project to flourish fully. This is where my engagement with Dana Luxenberg’s project “Imperial Courts” at The Photographer’s Gallery in London, 2017 became a pivotal turning point in both the technical direction and contextual direction of my project. I had always favoured this project and sadly overlooked in influence until partway through the creation of this series. The formality of her work and intimacy incorporated into the portraits because of the larger film format used inspired me to look more into the individuals in the group with a slower working camera. This allowed me to capture intimacy rather than snapping the processes unconditionally. I took influence from her open approach to how the individuals had an input on their image. Whether it be a pose a location or quote, her ideas worked fluidly with the wishes of the individual photographed. Ultimately her work made me consider the value of the environment within the portraits as well as their relationship with the groups sound and image which led me to produce a series of Black and white portrait diptychs, window mounted, and hand printed on silver gelatine paper. Another project that inspired my approach is the work of Rosie Matheson in her project “Boys”. The series uses close up portraiture to explore the sensitive side of young men, which actually related to my project unintentionally. This project ultimately exposes a sensitive side of an artists to the public by taking away all but the person. I used this idea and expanded it to incorporate an environmental perspective to show how deep a camera can go. From this point onwards my love for traditional processes expanded into the use of medium format film only which transcribed the level of intimacy I needed because of the slower more technical process used allowed me to further develop my own relationships with individuals in the group. Following on from this I took inspiration from other collective groups by looking at iconic Hip Hop photographers and groups such as Danny Hastings, Chi Modu, David Corio and Jannette Beckman all of whom photographed legendary Hip Hop groups like the Wu-Tang Clan, EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest and Jodeci. This research formed an early understanding of the importance of heritage and showmanship that the music industry demands, and how the features operate within an image on separate levels of representation. From the first photoshoot my work has constantly evolved from a simple observation of the processes of writing and recording to becoming a personally involved photo project that concentrates more on individual artists rather than a whole group. By creating work in black and white on a 6x7 medium format camera, my work pays tribute to the processes used in the 1990s and delivers a quality that highlights the care I have placed in this project. By working with analogue processes every step of the way from shooting to processing and hand printing. The process of image production is handled in a more personal and delicate way. This does not only convey a stronger connection towards the individuals I have photographed, it also eliminates any room for misrepresentation. By creating this level of trust between me and the subject it reveals a visual intimacy that has emerged from the hard work and persistence of creating relationships with members of the collective. The progression of this project has created more of a personal motivation than originally intended which has shifted my concentration more to the specific individuals. I have realised to truly capture a personality you have to be part of what drives them.
Venue- Rough Trade