Last month we introduced you to Better Perspectives; a collaboration between travel firm Expedia and eight up-and-coming London photographers. We've interviewed a couple of those involved to find out more about their work and favourite London landmarks. First up we spoke to Ben Shmulevitch, an Edinburgh College of Art graduate who enjoys exploring London's diversity of character.
What and where did you study? We met at Coventry University whilst studying Photography. Our course was small and we had inspiring tutors so it was a perfect melting pot for creativity and collaborations.
What do you enjoy most about London, and what does the capital mean to you? The best thing about London is how diverse it is, you’re constantly surrounded by people with different world views, religions and interests. It’s also a very creative place, you can walk down one street and see so many different artists, painters, singers, performing artists and photographers.
What have you learnt from being part of Better Perspectives? Have you enjoyed the project? The project was fun to work on, it had quite a fast turn-around time so we ended up shooting, editing and captioning our work within 48 hours which was intense but ended up being a great learning exercise. A lot of the time we can overthink and second guess our creative choices, something we're sure a lot of other creatives can relate to, but with this project we didn’t have the time to do that so we just ran with what ideas we had in the moment and it worked out for the best.
Shooting the Millennium Bridge was a little different for us, we’ve both walked past it countless times, but never really stopped to examine it. Doing this project has reminded us that little things we see and take for granted every day can be so much more interesting if you take the time to stop and really examine them, and photography is the perfect reason to do that.
Why did you choose to photograph the Millennium Bridge as an iconic landmark? We chose the Millennium Bridge initially because we both agreed it’s often underrated. We were both young when it originally opened and remember the hype that surrounded it, so it also reminds us of being care-free 8-year-old girls who spent our time watching Powerpuff Girls and signing about girl power. (Although saying that, we still do those things now too!)
How have you approached your subject and captured it in your own way? We tried to spend as much time as possible at the bridge on the day of the shoot, by doing that we started to notice the structure underneath it – an area that’s never really explored. There was one moment that was quite surreal, we were on the river bank under the bridge, about 10 foot below the city, the sun was setting and the bridge was just catching the light in a really beautiful way, then out of nowhere a group of canoers paddled in front of us and under the bridge where they became silhouetted. For a moment it didn’t feel like we were in the city, it felt quiet and peaceful. We got a sharp reminder that we were in London when some rubbish came floating into shot and we had to use sticks to move it a long, it was either a plastic bag or a shoe, can’t quite remember.
What, in your opinion, does the future hold for young creatives in London? Now more than ever it’s important for young creatives in London to listen to other people’s voices. Go to see exhibitions and meet creatives from different countries, with a different gender, sexuality or religion to you – challenge your own world view, burst your own bubble and learn from it. Embrace London’s diversity.
Can you tell us about your work? What themes do you explore and what does a typical series look like for you?
Daisy: My work tends to be very insular, usually I’ll lock myself away and binge-watch Netflix whilst I do a load of research on what I’m shooting, I’m an over-preparer and usually this is my favourite part of the whole project. I’m drawn to series’ that challenge what we accept as normal – they make me sit back and think how I see the world, it’s not something I’ve been able to bring through in my own work yet but that’s a hard thing to do and something I’ll always try to work on.
Genea: I'm still learning and shooting a variety of styles. Sometimes I'll be completely obsessed with a certain narrative, delving deeper into a lifestyle choice or unlikely hobby to photograph. My degree show piece was a documentary series exploring the hidden world of British Beauty Pageants. At the moment I'm working at fashion week and I've fallen in love with the designers aesthetics so that's becoming my biggest inspiration. This year I hope to shoot a lot more creative portraits and fashion work.
Do you use social media to share your work? What are your thoughts on doing so? We both tend to use social media to share our work a lot, it's how we were selected for this project too. The magazine we run (#PHOTOGRAPHY) is built on social media and creating communities to share work with – it’s such a valuable tool for photographers.
Do you think Brexit and the future of the UK will affect your work? 100% yes. As two young creatives living in the UK we both felt very affected by Brexit, we think a lot of our generation (but not all of them) feel proud of Britain’s diversity, it’s part of our national identity and that’s been taken away. If there’s one good thing that will come from Brexit though, it is the work it will inspire, people care about what’s happening and that will come through in their work. The last issue of #PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine was focussed on European creativity and unity – most of which was created as a direct response to Brexit so we’re already seeing that happen.