Photograd interviews Matt MacPake

To accompany the new edition of PGZ, we have interviewed some photography graduates from the submissions received for the Photograd blog. Here we have an interview with University of Hertfordshire graduate Matt MacPake.

This body of work has been in the making for quite some time. Can you tell us why? Is this your usual way of working? Well it does feel like Brexit has been going on forever, and I feel this project for me at least, began further back than the 2016 referendum.

I started taking photographs at the end of a previous project, To & From the North Circular. Unsurprisingly walking the A406 had left me jaded and I needed a change. So, just for fun I altered my process. I started to work in the opposite way: posed, digital colour portraits became black and white, 120mm film and I started to photograph people from a distance as they walked through my viewfinder. Pretty simple things - but it’s always better to start that way and see how the work progresses. Posed portraits came later but the observational images are still part of this project. That was in 2014-15 and in the beginning I was photographing around Euston and St Pancras, purely because they are busy commuter areas but looking back now perhaps I was drawn to the transport link to Europe.. who knows. 

Image from the series  Whisper City Bones

Image from the series Whisper City Bones

In early 2016, the project started to grow in my mind and by now I had been wandering into various different areas and parts of London. For a while I was just trying little experiments, playing around and seeing where it would take me. Lots of these tests didn’t amount to anything but it was nice to not have the pressure of any deadline and I spent long periods just making pictures. I enjoy working on long form documentary projects but I also enjoy short assignments and often work on a number of separate projects at once. There are more short projects to come. For now, this project remains unfinished although I do feel it’s coming towards an end. Either way, I’m sure many of us will be photographing Brexit and its impact upon Britain & the EU for generations to come. 

Image from the series  Whisper City Bones

Image from the series Whisper City Bones

How do you think London and your series has changed since the vote on Brexit? What sort of differences are you seeing when out making images? I think the whole country has been seeing the effects of Tory lead austerity for years now - homelessness and child poverty numbers are increasing and it’s worrying to think what the future will look like. 

When I first moved to London in 2010 it was an exciting time, I felt like anything was possible and London was a celebration of multicultural society. Most of us got happily swept up in the spirit of the 2012 Olympics, and although I’ve never considered myself patriotic, there was a huge sense of pride and ownership in the country at this time.

Like a lot of people many of my family and relatives outside of London voted to leave the EU, where as I voted Remain. It was and still is a strange time, with the country divided like I’ve never known before. I’ll never forget the awful feeling the morning of the result – a sick feeling in your gut. 

Image from the series  Whisper City Bones

Image from the series Whisper City Bones

This project captures a mood and atmosphere that occurred through this period. I personally feel we’re moving back in time, not forwards. There’s a great sense of uncertainty about our impending future. It wasn’t about who voted which way, that seemed to simplify this idea of what Brexit it is, of course it’s a lot more complex than a yes/no debate. Although we know Brexit is about the UK leaving the EU, no one has any idea of the impact it will have on future generations, and I’m fearful of that. Maybe for me, this feeling is part of becoming a dad for the first time – there’s a tendency to worry more about things you once took for granted. 

You've produced work in colour before but we're curious to know why you've chosen black and white for this work? What equipment have you been using? The world in black and white is a distinctive place - it’s not the world we live in and I like that. It’s a completely new environment where we can record a place we inhabit, but see it with new eyes - this adds a layer of tone that I find intriguing as the images can be more emotive. 

I’ll continue to work in colour but because of this project I believe I’ll always take black and white images too. I’ve made a connection with black & white photography I didn’t have previously. The project may carry on for a while yet, we will have to wait and see. I’m making a dummy of what I have so far but I’d also like to make new work about Brexit that deals with people & their stories in a more intimate and collaborative way. 

Image from the series  Whisper City Bones

Image from the series Whisper City Bones

At the beginning, I started testing with a Hasselblad 503CX, then used a Mamiya RB. But most of the final images from the project are made with either a Makina Plaubel 67 or a Mamiya 7. The Mamiya 7, was my dream camera, this was a birthday present from my wife, who I must say a huge thanks you too not only for this but also her advice & support with my photography! 

I had to use what I could get my hands on. I borrowed from friends and on occasion the loan store from the university where I teach. I’m not really a big kit, tech, type of person I’m more about the images and how I make them, but obliviously I love cameras! The best option for anyone is to use what you have. Limitations in what you have available can be a blessing not a curse.  

What would you like for your viewer to take from your images? I don’t want to tell the viewer what to take away from my project, I’m more interested in what different people see within it themselves. Some may think that sounds like a cop-out, but I hope there’s enough in the images to lead people certain ways and leave the audience to bring something to work. I hope that the work demonstrates a tone and atmosphere that’s of the time, but what this is will depend on who you are. There’s a fantastic quote by Todd Hido

“it’s not my job to create meaning, but only to charge the air so that meaning can occur”

Image from the series  Whisper City Bones

Image from the series Whisper City Bones

Brexit has certainly ‘charged the air’ for the last 3-4 years, so I hope that my project has captured some of this in its own way. I used this quote for inspiration throughout the start of the work and it’s something I go back to when looking for new visual approaches. 

I’ve always struggled with words it’s maybe why I was drawn to photography to begin with, although you soon realise that the two go hand in hand. Now I see that photography helps develop my language and understanding

This project has the working title Whisper City Bones, which comes from a quote by Iain Sinclair, which begins “London is a city that sleeps too much.” This appealed to me as it challenges the positive idea of cities being alive and thriving. We all know that London is too successful for its own good and that has a negative impact across the rest of the country. I feel the UK has been asleep for years - we’ve let austerity happen and now Brexit. There’s nothing nice you can add on the end of this is there…

Image from the series  Whisper City Bones

Image from the series Whisper City Bones

There is hope and it’s in the next generation, look at the school kids marching for climate change, so inspiring, they are all heroes! That’s hope & that’s something to believe in!

Photograd interviews Nicholas Priest

To accompany the new edition of PGZ, we have interviewed some photography graduates from the submissions received for the Photograd blog. Here we have an interview with Birmingham City University graduate and current MA student at the University of Gloucestershire Nicholas Priest.

Where did you attend university and what year did you graduate? I attended BCU and graduated in 2009 and I am currently undergoing my first year of my MA at the University of Gloucestershire.

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Tell us about your time at university. Have you got any stand out moments you can tell us about? I loved the freedom of university and was able to look at a few and mediums in the visual communication course before continuing with my love for photography. I actually transferred from the LCC in London to BCU and from marketing and advertising to visual communication as I found myself bored in lectures and bored of writing essays and all I wanted to do is to take my camera out (and that’s all I did do).

In my second year we were given a documentary photography brief and at this time I was unsure about man area or my area of photography, field and overall real identity in photography. This module and my introduction in to William Eggleston and Stephen Shore through the lectures and tutorial taught me to think about visual story telling. This project really gave me my indemnity and I want to know everything and anything to do with documentary photography and where ideas and thought process are communicate from ideas and research in to visual communication through documentary photography. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

What themes do you explore in your work? I really enjoy just getting lost. I have always dropped myself in a location and walked. This use to be with headphones and the latest indie band on but it is now without headphones and listening to the area and the environment and having some sort of guidance through sense of place.

I like to think about a story and narrative before I go and give myself some background knowledge of an area to then try to depict and communicate without the viewer ever being there. This has developed into adding people and trying to portray the person again without the person meeting them and getting some thought process of communication through my photographs. 

I want to try and give the viewer new knowledge through the obvious and documentation of the everyday and through the ideology of sense of place and geographically location of time and space. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Tell us about your series. What's important to you about the A46? Who inspired you? How did you feel when revisiting locations from such significant times in your life? I have seen a lot of the A46 within my 31 years; Burton Farm tip, where myself and my Dad would take trips at the weekend with hedge cuttings and unwanted trinkets to dispose of and give to the Hospice shop. Alcester to Coventry is where my Dad would drive me to football games and I now drive myself up and down this part of the A46 to in and around Stratford and still playing football. My Dad drove up and down the A46 as a national sales man for different companies and I will never forget the orange lollies from Little Chefs that he would bring home and the small BP albums that we used to collect. Towards Coventry, I remember taking a bus with my Mum as a young boy to get a cyst removed as my Dad was working away and we only had one car. Warwick Hospital is just off the A46, where I have visited for twisted ankles, getting wisdom teeth removed and more recently with my Mums Mum passing away.

About 8 years ago, my parents moved from Stratford upon Avon, where I had grown up with my sister and moved down the A46 to Bidford on Avon, we helped them move and I have lived in the house a few times; after university and after a break up with a girlfriend. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

I remember working with adults with learning disabilities and I was driving with my ex-girlfriend in the car and was in a consistent mood and mind set of overthinking, which let me to overthinking while driving and I pulled out of a junction at Longbridge Island. Myself and my girlfriend at the time where fine, but this lead me take a step back within my life and leave that job to seek and get help for this over thinking. I got counselling and went on anti-depressants and close to a year later, I had pushed and made myself the person I am now.

I teach photography at the College in Stratford where I was first taught and grew my love for photography, I live in a house in Broadway with my girlfriend and my overthinking is near but gone. I now drive to just see my Mum in Bidford more today as we lost my Dad a few years ago in a freak accident, were we also lost our family Dog. I visit my Mum and her new dog regularly and my Mum comes to watch my play football for a local village team; Welford that my Uncle helps to run.

Sense of place and relationships are journeys, where it is good or bad memories, we change, places and landscapes change, family and friends, live changes. Visiting the A46; I took these memories to where I knew, stopping and walking and documenting what I remember to what has changed. This went up to and just passed Coventry. I then drove and walked where I didn’t know and that was from Coventry to Grimsby and Cleethorpes visting the centre and the outskirts alongside the A46 road. Documenting other memories and what could have been mine if I lived close to that area of the A46. 

As you move from Twkesbury all the way up to Grimsby and Cleethorpes more of the nation voted out in the recent Brexit vote. I wanted to try to show this, and document changes from place to place; documenting the change and giving the viewer a sense of place and idea of change from; little chefs to Starbucks and McDonalds and to portray a portrait of Britain and the real people and the roads and journeys we take.

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Depending on the outcome of Brexit and the future of the UK, where do you see your photography taking you in the future? Brexit has become an absolute farce. Whether you voted remain or leave. The notion that the people that ‘run’ this country would rather lie than govern the country, for the people is absurd. 

With the arts world this is already no funding and galleries have to charge more than I believe that they would want to as there is no backing and cuts are being made left, right and centre within the arts. 

This filters down to artists and graduates trying to get their work into galleries, exhibitions and enter them in to paying competitions, but there are platforms like Photograd that can use their platform and social media to help photographers be seen and keep them enthusiastic and motivated to continue with work and create new work. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

My time with photography has been up to and down and projects have come and gone and some have been finished. With the Brexit outcome I can see myself carrying on with expressing narrative through my documentary photography and this may with the outcome of Brexit and documenting people and places; like my new project the A46 and what, who, and or might be affected by Brexit.

How do you feel your series communicates the current state of the UK? What would you like your viewer to learn? I think my series gives an idea of sense of place, change of landscape and the idea of psychogeography of urban and rural environments. I want to show the viewer the nostalgia of a road and relation to myself.  To show a journey and the change of the how far the a service station has come, to observe buildings and infrastructure, cafes, signs and overall semiotics, and be hopeful that the viewer can resonate with the series and the journey and see different landscapes from west to east of the A46 through; edgelands and into environments where different people voted remain and out.

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Have you got any exciting future plans? I am about half way through the A46 and starting to get a good vocabulary and looking more in to the contextual side as the project grows. I have been looking in to the road trip through David Company’s The Open Road alongside looking into work after Robert Franks Americans. The main homage has been to Paul Grahams  A1; The Great North Road and the nostalgia of Grahams journey on an ‘A’ road. These photographers, their visual communication, and my thinking through my MA so far has lead down a path of psychogeography; before and psychogeography today and the idea of walking. This has come from readings in to Merlin Coverley, Patrick Keillers Robison series, Doreen Massey’s For Space and Paul Farley and Micheal Roberts Edgelands which are helping my understanding the idea of walking, place, representation, awareness and a vocabulary to go and continue to shoot for my essay into the ‘A46’. 

I have also begun to plan a project around villages in Britain and abroad with the idea of Brexit being a very narrative throughout. 

Fleur and Arbor interview Jennifer Atcheson

To accompany the new edition of PGZ, we approached industry experts to select from submissions received a photography graduate they would like to interview for Photograd. Here we have Fleur and Arbor co-founders Jasmine and Olivia interviewing University of Ulster graduate Jennifer Atcheson.

How did this project come about?

My original project West came about in 2009 as part of my BA Photography studies. After returning from a project in Cyprus about the city of Famagusta, which lies along the Turkish and Greek Cypriot border, I began to reflect on why I was fascinated with this area. 

Having grown up less than a mile from the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border, the answer was clear and I felt compelled that this would be my next project. I photographed the area where I grew up, both the border and people where Tyrone and Donegal meet. Almost a decade later and this project has become more important than ever. 

Currently I am working on a project under the title of Bordertownland where I am exploring all counties along the border, my main subject of interest is the people and portraits within the landscape.

Image from the series  Bordertownland

Image from the series Bordertownland

What is it like to photograph a place that is so familiar? Was there anything that surprised you? It’s alien and familiar at the same time. For many the border areas have a lot of attached anxieties, and although I remember little more than the border checks and the impassable minor roads cratered or obstructed with cement blockades, it still gives me an uneasy feeling even in the most beautiful landscapes. Locals are inquisitive about why you are idling in theses areas, sometimes met with support and sometimes with suspicion, either way it doesn’t go unnoticed. 

What has surprised me most is how it all feels very much like a temporary effort now that I look at these places again. The bridges look utilitarian and inexpensive, the old checkpoint and customs plots left in a state of somewhat maintained disuse, even some old cement blockades remain having been moved only feet from where they once stood. 

Image from the series  West

Image from the series West

How has your career as a Camera Assistant influenced your photography style? Working in the Film and TV influences my work mainly in the way that I have little time to spare to pursue photography. A minimal working week for me is 50 hours and I have just recently worked an unusually long 16-hour day. But having said that I love my job and my career and lifestyle are difficult to differentiate. All my working hours I am constantly thinking about cameras, lenses, filters and light. In my spare time I rarely go a day without thinking about Photography. I have worked with some of the most talented and experienced Cinematographers from around the world who I would never have otherwise met.

Photography is almost like a language and for me the more technical understanding you have, the more fluently you can use it to communicate. My photography has changed technically and I know more intuitively how to achieve a shot, but my style has changed very little. My photography is not in any way cinematic and is a world away from how my short films look. For me Photography and Cinematography are closely related but more akin to cousins than siblings. 

Image from the series  West

Image from the series West

Why did you choose to shoot both the landscape and portraiture? For me landscape and portraiture separately are limited in expressing this subject and my main interests are for the representation of the people within the border areas. Photography is always poses the question of how to represent a subject within a single frame and this is where the landscapes come into play. Most of these people would be directly affected by the reinstatement of any kind of a border. Their lives and work are strongly connected to and dependent on the land. 

You're developing a short film, can you tell us about your process? I haven’t started shooting the short film such as yet, but this piece I would say it is more of a moving image Photography piece rather than a regular Film. It will expand on the photographs with the sound recordings being the most important part. I intend on interviewing the people I have photographed about the border and their feelings towards Brexit, yet the outcome will not be a straight documentary type film.

Image from the series  West

Image from the series West

What does Brexit mean to you? Before I comment I feel I need to state that I have friends and family on both sides of “the divide” both religious and political.

Brexit means a border. Hard or soft, either way, and if it is happens between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland it would more than likely result in at least the closure of one family members small business, and the downsizing of a currently booming Film and TV industry. The reality for myself and other family and friends would be disastrous for our livelihoods and many would have to move away for work even if they wished to stay here.

Brexit has serious consequences for Northern Ireland and could be the catalyst for the destruction of the current fragile state of “peace”. Already in the past months we have witnessed a car bomb in an open public place and in a separate incident, the fatality of a Journalist in a shooting during a riot. Northern Ireland is going to be the most directly affected part of the UK, but seems to have been nothing but a complication and an afterthought to the representing politicians.

Introducing Landform

In this blog post we introduce you to Landform, a network developed to promote and support the work of female landscape photographers. Supporting each other in practice and engagement with landscape.

Image by Lisa Bond

Image by Lisa Bond

Who are you, what’s your motto? I am Cath Stanley, a landscape and fine art photographer based in Manchester.  I am one of the members of FORM Collective, a relatively new collective who has just completed a successful first year.

What’s your background? Have you studied photography? I graduated with a creative arts degree and have taught graphics and photography in further education for the last 17 years. Having taught in an art department you become quite familiar with many creative techniques, my last project took on a more mixed media style.

I am part of FORM collective, a group of talented photographers and image makers from across the UK.  Last year we put together our first exhibition at the collective hub as part of Brighton Photo Fringe.  

Image by Cath Stanley

Image by Cath Stanley

What’s your favourite style of photography? That is a difficult question, I actually like and appreciate a lot of different styles of photography. Although my main work is based in the area of landscape, I often find great interest in alternative photography techniques, I like the aesthetic of film and some of the camera-less methods. I like photography with an interesting story behind it, something that opens conversations or raises questions, expresses a point of view or just simply engages the audience in different ways.  

Who motivates you? I love travel and adventure, I like exploring and different types of landscape really motivate me. I have always been a bit of a daydreamer and spent quite a bit of my early education staring out of the window at the outdoors. The idea of just being able to lose yourself amongst mist shrouded mountains, or explore wild moors, see sun rays beaming through clouds or capture forests of tightly knit trees, it is the landscape itself gives me a real sense of wellbeing. Sometimes I return to locations and document the change in seasonal colours as this particularly interests me.

Image by Joanne Coates

Image by Joanne Coates

Can you tell us what Landform is? I set up Landform as a network to develop, promote and support the work of female photographers who are interested in landscape. Through social media, meet ups at various locations around the UK, photo walks, portfolio/work reviews, workshops and possible exhibitions it is my aim to support others in our practice and engagement with landscape.

Landform aims to bring female photographers together, of all levels and abilities, to encourage a supportive group, to share good practice and skills, whilst exploring new areas within the landscape as a group. 

What were your initial aims and inspirations when putting ideas together for Landform? There are lots of reasons to why I set up Landform, firstly landscape photography can be quite solitary and some of the best light to capture during the day is tricky especially if you live in a city. Having a community, a group of like-minded individuals to support and share good practice with means we can explore and engage new locations safely.  

There is also a real imbalance of female photographers to males in industry, with just under 30%, maybe even less in landscape. As a female landscape photographer, full time teacher and a mum it is very hard to gain a balance, to juggle all the responsibilities to just be able to drop everything and go out to take photographs. Most importantly that no matter what your photographic ability is or whether using a mobile phone, I would like Landform to be open to all.

Image by Lisa Bond

Image by Lisa Bond

What is Landforms biggest achievement to date? Landform is very much within its infancy, but I have had overwhelming support from both other photography networks and groups of people who are interested in supporting or joining me at events. I am a big fan of using social media to share other peoples accounts and promote work, I think that sometimes as photography can be quite isolated and using social media can be for some quite daunting it is difficult to become lost, especially as landscape photography is so popular. I have received so many positive and heart-warming messages from followers who are genuinely surprised that I have shared their accounts. 

Image by Joanne Coates

Image by Joanne Coates

How can photographers get involved in what you do? Landform on Instagram offers a place for female landscape photographers or image makers of any level to share their images, it is a platform to promote their work and a space that is a supportive community for other like-minded individuals.   

Later this year I am running a series of social meet ups and photo walks out in the Peak District and other locations, building our community and enabling individuals to meet, share good practice, create new opportunities 

Image by Cath Stanley

Image by Cath Stanley

Give one tip to new photography graduates? Opportunities, take opportunities and then create opportunities for others because everyone needs a bit of help just to grow and to believe in themselves.

What does 2019 have in store for Landform? As Landform is still in its very early stages I am hoping to establish a community and the support for others grows both on social media and on photo walks.

An interview with Photograd Open 2018 exhibiting photographer Joel Biddle

Photography students at London Metropolitan University supported in the curation of our very first open exhibition and also selected a number of exhibiting photographers to interview about their work.

Here we have an interview with Joel Biddle.

Images from the series  Tectonic

Images from the series Tectonic

Joel Biddle Stretch_1.jpg

Which photographers inspire you? I find my inspirations come from a mixture of landscape photographers and conceptual artists. The simplicity that some conceptual art can have has always been a draw for me, and a lot of the time that kind of work is more about only showing what is absolutely necessary and simplifying the message. I think one of my earliest influencers was Michael Kenna, whose work was a huge inspiration for me to create and experiment in the darkroom. The minimalist aesthetic and his approach to a mixture of geometric, manmade shapes and the shapes of the natural world has always been impactful. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work was introduced to me just prior to university and has since been influencing my approach to my work as well. I think these photographer’s work changed my mindset about photography and made me take more time with my work. 

What do you find interesting in landscape photography? The possibilities involved in landscape photography are the reason I’m drawn to it, and the challenge of finding somewhere that connects with you is very rewarding. It can be a timeless for of photography, and you can create a landscape that can be very hard to place location wise, leading to an image that is very open to interpretation.  

From the series  Tectonic

From the series Tectonic

The juxtaposition between the smooth, changing shape and texture of water against ancient and seemingly permanent and harsh shapes of rock structures in the sea fascinates me and I try to highlight this. It’s almost an instinctual thing for me to photograph the landscape, and I sometimes don’t even see my work as landscape, as it can be broken down into a shapes and textures very easily and become abstract. 

Do you prefer using digital or analogue camera? Why? I’m in the process of moving to 100% analogue photography for a few reasons, one is the look of film grain has a lot of character to it, its quite organic. There is no instant gratification involved in analogue photography, which I find very motivational to get out and work more and concentrate on capturing what is in front of me. Film suits me very well as I found myself shooting a handful of images a day with a digital camera, which almost seemed like a waste of the potential of a camera that could easily shoot a thousand images a day, so it seemed obvious to move to a slower medium. The hand made element of a print produced in the darkroom is very appealing to me as well, and it’s a very expressive way of doing things. 

From the series  Tectonic

From the series Tectonic

What do you want to transmit with your photography? I want a calming sense of tranquillity to be found from my photography, and a sense of quiet that reflects the locations I photograph. There are no people in my work landscapes and very rarely any buildings, which leads to a sense of isolation, but its not a bleak isolation, its more of a break from chaos, and a choice rather than something forced.  

I don’t seek dramatic imagery when I choose my subject, and this is reflected in what I’m trying to say with my landscapes, and the feeling I hope to generate within the viewer.  

What did you try to achieve with this project? I started this project as a way of experimenting with the contrast between hard, rugged element, hence the use of the aggressive title ‘Tectonic’, and the flowing of glassy waters, with a focus on attempting to avoid any stereotypical landscape. This is why I was opposed to using vivid colour, avoided the golden hour and used telephoto lenses instead of wide-angle lenses and I find it very natural to photograph in portrait orientation, something that is somewhat ironic about my landscape photography. 

From the series  Tectonic

From the series Tectonic

I wanted to create something that had staying power, something that I wouldn’t get bored of looking at. A lot of the images I was taking before I wasn’t even printing, I was leaving them as digital files and looking at maybe once or twice. I had a different mindset when I started to create work for ‘Tectonic’, which was to work towards a body of work rather than a standalone image.  

Have you worked on other photographic project that are not landscape-based? I have been working on and am continuing to work on an astrophotography based project that involves photographing starlight with expired film that equals the age of the light of the star, for example I photographed Capella, a star that is 42 light years away with film that was produced 42 years ago. The idea that the film and the light were produced simultaneously but it takes decades for the light to reach the destination is fascinating and I hope to move the project on to use expired photographic paper to capture starlight and create one of a kind works, though this has many technical challenges. I have a broad interest in conceptual based photography and alternative processes, and may apply this to my landscape work at some point. 

An interview with Photograd Open 2018 exhibiting photographer Katie Hayward

Photography students at London Metropolitan University supported in the curation of our very first open exhibition and also selected a number of exhibiting photographers to interview about their work.

Here we have an interview with Katie Hayward.

How would you describe your project and relationship to the title Between Darkness and Light? Between Darkness and Light is an observation of the landscape of the coastal town of Lowestoft in Suffolk. The town occupies the most easterly point of the country and so is positioned as one of its extremities. The body of work seeks to provide a subtle acknowledgement of industries won and lost over time, giving a glimpse into Lowestoft’s tumultuous past and tentative future. It is a town, like many in the UK, forced to live through governmental decisions made at a distance, which directly impact upon the communities that live and work there. While our government negotiates for our exit from the European Union, potentially using our fishing waters as the bargaining tool, this is more prominent now than ever before in this town.

From the series  Between Darkness and Light

From the series Between Darkness and Light

The title of the project is derived from my research into the writings of W. G. Sebald and his book titled The Rings of Saturn whereby he narrates his journey along the East Coast.  When describing his experience of Lowestoft, he recalls looking out towards the sea through a bay window of the dining room of his rather lacklustre hotel, stating that “Outside was the beach, somewhere between the darkness and the light” (Sebald, P.43). These words resonated with me as they seemed to fit with the general essence of the place that I had experienced and also politically, socially, economically and emotionally in a metaphorical sense.  

What was the inspiration for the project? I had developed a genuine interest in the concept of place photographically and having recently moved to the East Coast I was curious to see how documenting a place with which I had no knowledge of, or emotional connection to, would impact upon the images I produced at the other end. Would my photographic exploration create an emotional connection or attachment of sorts or would my role in documenting it keep me distanced from it? This was the catalyst for starting the project. 

How has the course at the University of Suffolk shaped your practice? When I started my course at the University of Suffolk, we were taken right back to basics with 35mm black and white film where we learned to develop and print our own work.  This really helped me connect with where photography had grown from and allowed me to join the dots with where photography is now.  I had never stepped foot into a darkroom and so the learning curve was a steep one for me, but very rewarding.  I’m quite an impatient person and the medium of film photography truly challenged me and took me out of my comfort zone.  It made me a more considerate photographer as the process was considerably slower. This helped me to truly appreciate the photographers of the past who never had digital as an option and what an undertaking it must have been for the work that they produced at that time.  The course structure was also a huge thing for me, it really guided me through how to produce a project from proposal through to exhibition and everything in-between, with group critique sessions and presentations of my work I gained the confidence in critiquing my own work as well as the work of others in a constructive way.  

From the series  Between Darkness and Light

From the series Between Darkness and Light

Who is your main photographic inspiration? It is impossible for me to put this down to just one person, but I will try to be as concise. Gerhard Stromberg and his Coastline Catalogue work. Chris Killip and his Inflagrante and Seacoal series. Michael Collins and his Landscape and Industry publication and Hoo Peninsula work.  There is also a small independent publisher called Another Place Press run by photographer Iain Sarjeant who publish books focusing on contemporary landscape photography. Everything they publish is in line with my interests photographically. Iain’s photographic work is also quite something.  

What do you want to achieve and say with your project? I wanted to present images which provoked thought and questions. I wanted to convey a sense of place, an acknowledgement of its community, of its past via the apparatus of its landscapes. I like working in a series-based format with narrative imbedded in the work and I hope the work achieved that in some sense.  

What camera and lens did you use? Initial location scouting and test shooting was done on my trusty Canon 7d mark ii. The formal images were shot on a Shen Hao 5x4 XPO 45-A camera with a 150mm lens.

From the series  Between Darkness and Light

From the series Between Darkness and Light

Why did you choose that equipment? Shooting digital to initially test locations, times of day and compositions enabled me to quite quickly find what worked and what didn’t, I had a lot of ground to cover. I knew I wanted to have the final images on large format as this felt right for the subject matter and detail within the landscapes. I also wanted the images to be presented in large scale and large format is best placed for this to retain as much quality as possible when taking prints large. I also really enjoy the pace of large format and the fact the lenses are fixed focal lengths, it forces me to be more patient and considerate about what I am doing and to really focus on composition. 

What are your career plans? The aim and intention is to continue to grow and progress as a photographic artist, and to push forward with developing bodies of work for exhibition and publication. I am currently in the process of researching several projects of which I am incredibly excited about. I believe I have some very captivating narratives to put out there and hopefully I can do this in a visually compelling way. I want people who engage with my work to feel compelled to enter into wider discussion and debate about its subject.

Featuring 2018 photography graduates

New Photograd content | Supporting 2018 photography graduates from UK based courses.

This summer Photograd are supporting a number of 2018 photography graduates from UK based courses through interviews, sharing of work, and promotion to a much wider audience. Selected from a recent call for work across social media were, in total, 12 new graduates who we are sharing the work of. We're appreciating some noticeable trends in photography over the last couple of years and new content on the Photograd platform brings you still life, responses to current affairs, exploration of family heritage, and industrial effects upon the landscape.

University of the West of England graduate Tom Roche presents his series Black Blood on the Photograd Spotlight in which he explores his own Romany Gypsy heritage through stories and speculation. We asked Tom about his university experience, his use of photography to find a sense of 'home', and his future plans, in particular how he will make Black Blood interestingly presented on the web.

The documentary collection of archival images, and both medium and large format prints, presented together provoke some interesting thoughts about family, heritage, and the future. 

Images from the series  Black Blood  by Tom Roche

Images from the series Black Blood by Tom Roche



We selected Norwich University of the Arts graduate Holly Farndell to takeover the Photograd Instagram at the end of July with her documentary work.

"Golden Promise was created from Autumn through to Spring as a documentation of light and the changing of seasons. With a short escape from grey old England to sun-washed Spain, it is an observation of my experience with seasonal affective disorder and coping with the light and darkness of life."

You can follow along to find out more about Holly and her work from Sunday 29th July - Saturday 4th August.

Images from the series  Golden Promise  by Holly Farndell

Images from the series Golden Promise by Holly Farndell



Falmouth University graduate Caterina Lombardi presents us with her series SATIS on the Photograd Spotlight. In here interview, Caterina presents her still life images and accompanying video. Caterina takes inspiration from traditional still life paintings and intends to educate the viewer on certain current affairs. Each of her images are uniquely titled in Latin to give everybody the opportunity to decipher subject matter.

ABORTUS IURA  from the series  SATIS  by Falmouth University graduate  Caterina Lombardi

ABORTUS IURA from the series SATIS by Falmouth University graduate Caterina Lombardi

OBSTETRICANTE VIOLENTIAM  from the series  SATIS  by Falmouth University graduate  Caterina Lombardi

OBSTETRICANTE VIOLENTIAM from the series SATIS by Falmouth University graduate Caterina Lombardi


Nine highly commended 2018 photography graduates from UK based courses were also selected from this call for work to be represented on the Photograd blog. These bodies of work stood out to us for many reasons and we took this opportunity to share them.

Miguel Proença ,  The Buzzer (ZhUOZ)

Miguel ProençaThe Buzzer (ZhUOZ)

Luke Hurlock ,  Tokamak Fusion

Luke HurlockTokamak Fusion

Chiara Avagliano ,  Val Paradiso

Chiara AvaglianoVal Paradiso

University of Westminster graduate Luke Hurlock presents Tokamak Fusion which documents the current state of advancements in the field of nuclear fusion research. The word Tokamak comes from the Russian Toroidalnaya Kamera I Magnitnaya Katushka (Toroidal Chamber and Magnetic Coil) an is in reference to the fusion devices used by the leading fusion experiments. The images in this project aim to both intrigue and inform the viewer on the progress of a future technology that promises to solve one of humanity’s biggest problems, clean renewable energy production.


London College of Communication graduate Chiara Avagliano explores the places she grew up in Val Paradiso. "

The mountain scenery blends with the hills of the countryside colliding in a space inhabited by childhood memories, magical encounters, teenage adventures, mystical experiences, idealised love and a magical bond between girls that echoes ancient rituals and witchcraft. 

The fictional documentary work is a coming of age tale, retold from different points of view. 

Personal experiences are narrated and transformed, almost becoming legends whispered softly, from mouth to mouth, from me to my half-sister and her girlfriends."

Chris Mear. Five Years: A Reciprocal Tribute

Legacy: A Reciprocal Tribute is an artwork conceived by Patricia Swannell in response to The Woodland Trusts flagship Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee. Patricia’s artwork takes the form of a plinth, inviting local families to make an annual family photograph against the backdrop of the developing trees. Charting both the changes in their family and the changes in the landscape they collectively call home. Five years ago Staffordshire University graduate Chris Mear was commissioned to photograph this selected family in the same spot in Leicestershire each year. 2018 marks Chris's 5th year as the commissioned photographer.

I could agrue that 2014 was my most succesful year to date. I became an artist in residence, I published my first book and I landed a modest succession of commissions which just about saw me through the remainder of the year. It was, finally, the year that I could actually defend the claim that I was a “photographer” - a claim which I have to admit I’ve, more often than not, not had the confidence to defend. But when it all starts winding down and I’m sat in a tree looking back at my brief holiday on earth, I will most probably remember the year 2014 for one thing above all others - a commission that goes by the name of Legacy: A Reciprocal Tribute. A commission that, all being well, will see me well into what I’m told they used to call “retirement age”.

The London based, Canadian born artist, Patricia Swannell was asked to come up with a location based artwork for the Woodland Trust’s flagship commemoration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012 - that’s 60 years on the old thrown. Interestingly, what Patricia devised was a “photo point” in a carefully selected location within the wood - selected to compose people, trees and landscape. 

The idea was, to me at least, both beautiful, poigniant and simple. To chart the growth of yourself alongside the development of your family the woodland and the wider landscape.

Patricia also visited the woodland site in the early days of it’s post-industrial transition and collected 60 native plants and wildflowers from which she made 60 etchings to make up a permanent exhibition - which moves to a new home this autumn. Each year one of these etchings will be replaced by my portrait of the Martinson family, a local family who live just a pleasent evenings stroll away from the wood.


This Sunday evening will be the fifth exposure, the fifth year. And so far each time I have made that walk to the photo point I have been unable to prevent my mind from thinking to the future; what will this all be like in 60 years time? This year however, I intend to try extra hard to not venture though my mind in some ludicrous attempt to construct an imaginary future. My rabbit of almost seven years died this week and I hope to pay respect to my friend, my best friend, and teacher by beginning to practice his most important teaching; Life Is Now.

So I will experience the woodland for what it is, a wild place where the two Martinson boys are growing faster than the trees. A place of peace and natural unity which leaves you feeling a sense of hope and optimism in a world dominated by a species that all to often seems intent on losing its remarkable mind.

How lucky I am, to have been in such a right place, at such a right time to land a photography gig like this.

The Gatekeepers (work in progress) by Alex Ingram

The University of The West of England, Bristol graduate Alex Ingram was featured on Photograd previously with his series David's House. The series was published into a photobook in 2016 and Alex is now working in a new series of work, The Gatekeepers, which featured in the first edition of our zine, PGZ129, released earlier this year.

We introduce you here to images from The Gatekeepers which is currently a work in progress as Alex continues to return to the islands to make more images.

Scattered across the small islands surrounding the UK live lone wardens, spending their lives in quiet solidarity, away from the crowded, overpopulated landscapes of our urban world. Their role: to maintain and manage the preservation of their islands natural beauty and wildlife for future generations, whilst conducting research into these incredibly delicate ecosystems.

With limited access to the mainland during the winter months, no fresh running water, and under constant attack from harsh storms and perilous currents that can see them marooned for weeks at a time, it is not a role many are suited for.

What is it like living so close to the mainland, but yet so far removed from social norms? How do they cope when the currents are too strong to make it back over for fresh food and supplies? What is it like living without the modern day technologies that we take for granted? And how do they adapt and overcome these daily obstacles with limited human contact?

Over the next two years, these are the questions I want to explore. I will be visiting these remote islands and spending time with the wardens that have chosen to spend their lives there, in the hopes of better understanding what life is like living in some of the most beautiful, yet inhospitable landscapes in the UK.

In a world that is changing at a rapid pace, I want to question how this simplistic way of life fits within our modern world. 

9 Skomer Landscape 3-Edit015.jpg
16 Wardens Home 3-Edit.jpg
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All images from the series  The Gatekeepers

All images from the series The Gatekeepers

'The Clearing' by Chris Younger at Durham's newest arts festival - 4th – 17th June

ART DURHAM is a new and vibrant visual arts festival jointly organised by Durham University and Durham County Council. Along with Durham Festival of the Arts and DJazz, ART DURHAM celebrates Durham’s music, theatre and visual arts scene with exhibitions, events and workshops across the city throughout June.


Durham based photographer Chris Younger will be taking over an empty retail store in the heart of Durham city centre with his new exhibition The Clearing. Younger invites us to consider the experience of being human. The Clearing is a space where we can reflect on our sense of self, ideas, and experiences. In The Clearing we build our understanding of ourselves, others and the world.

Image from the series  The Clearing  by Chris Younger

Image from the series The Clearing by Chris Younger

The Clearing began as a response to the difficulties the artist felt in talking about his photography to others. This developed into an exploration of deeper anxieties regarding integrity, authenticity and self.

The Clearing draws inspiration from the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Most influentially his notion of our anxieties arising from the conflict of being in the world and being with others.

The exhibition runs from 4th – 17th June in the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre, located on Durham’s historic peninsula, only a few minutes walk from Durham Cathedral. Entry is free.

Chris Younger (b. 1981, Newcastle) is an artist, photographer and filmmaker living in rural Durham, UK. He recently completed a Masters degree (with distinction) in Photography at the University of Sunderland and is currently artist-in-residence at Durham University's Josephine Butler College.

He uses landscape photography to explore the interactions between people, places and nature over time. His highly autobiographical work analyses formal notions of landscape through the filter of his own experiences.

We have prints from The Clearing available in the Photograd Shop!

Photobook Review: 'Tracing a Line Along a Breath Exhaled' reviewed by Lucy Bentham

We're always on the look out for creative involvement to the Photograd blog and we instantly knew we wanted Lucy Bentham to come on board when she suggested writing some words about a favourite photobook. Lucy is an independent curator and photographer who graduated from the MA Photography and the book course at the University of Plymouth last year.

We hope for Lucy's review to inspire others to create their own. Contact us for more info:

Photographer and Title: Tracing a Line Along a Breath Exhaled, Carly Seller

Genre: Landscape, handmade artist book

Rating: 4/5


8 images, monochrome

9 pages, concertina, wrap-around cover with obi band

Edition of 24

Horizontal lines, steps into the unknown, and a steady pace of one foot in front of the other are visual and physiological elements of the photographs in this series. The viewer embarks on their own journey as they are placed in the position of the maker, treading carefully through the landscape with a clear message to gently roam onwards and upwards. The horizontal panoramic orientation of Seller’s prints primarily provide a lofty transcendental lift as the visuals combine with the philosophical, softly encouraging the gaze and the mind towards an elevated state of being. 

At the same time, Seller’s visual approach represents an ordinary way of seeing; that which is in front of us, the length of our bodies, and as far as the eye can see. Through a vertical, almost standardised way of contemporary seeing, we remain to consider what is ahead, around the corner, up the hill. We don’t look back, and we rarely alter our position to consider the other surrounding us as we amble into the beyond. 

From the series  Tracing a Line Along a Breath Exhaled

From the series Tracing a Line Along a Breath Exhaled

On occasion we find relief in the downward pathways, providing a pause in our forward movement. Downhill, we can presume we have already reached the summit and can break to take stock of our journey thus far. However, as in the triptych shown above, Seller reminds us that there is only one way forward as prickly walls furnishing the landscape claustrophobically surround us. The way forward is no longer a gentle roam; it becomes a need to continue along the path as it promises a steady downhill start, before once again elevating us into the undiscovered. 

Ultimately, these paths are never-ending; we are not provided with a conclusion to the series that brings our continual motion to a finite halt. Throughout this journey into the land, we are surrounded by fears and threats we only intermittently pay attention to. When we do catch a glimpse of these foes, they only spur us on, keeping pace along the endless way. 

Tracing a Line Along a Breath Exhaled  photobook

Tracing a Line Along a Breath Exhaled photobook

As a photographer working with the book I am often, if not always, interested to see photographic work represented as a book work, especially when the work is translated from original concept through a number of different gallery installations and into a book work. I like to engage with what I consider to be the thought process of the artist as they choose to disseminate their work in book form and I tend to favour the self-published or hand-made dummies because of their closeness to original, organic ideas of the maker. 

The book for Tracing a Line Along a Breath Exhaled is an accompaniment to, rather than a culmination of, this body of work. The project itself conveys a particularly deep connection between the photographer and the natural landscape, echoed in the delicate, handmade qualities of this book. 

The joy of a concertina book is that the reader is given some sense of ability to rearrange the sequencing of the images, although any new sequence will always remain confined to the space and time set by the photographer. The excellent quality of printing is on a matte finish paper stock that deepens the blacks on this set of monochrome prints. The forest green cover acts as a visual prompt for the content as the reader opens the book for the first time and later returns to it. The book is held together with an obi band slipped over its entirety, upon which the title is repeatedly printed in a simple typeface. 

This is a project accompaniment book, not a final dummy for publication. If this book was to be taken to the next step and become a dummy for self or other publication I would like to see more image content. The small size of the book in terms of width and height is surprisingly effective considering the grander scale of the subject matter and aspect ratio of the framing. The addition of pages, making the book deeper, would not impact on the sizing. The benefit of the images used in this book is that they could be presented at a much larger scale, as seen in the installation of the original work and this would be interesting to see translated into book form.