James Allen

University: University College Falmouth

Graduation: 2012

GenreDocumentary

Websitewww.jamesarthurallen.co.uk

Artist Statement: My work in general is documentary led, I enjoy the interaction with my subjects and the exploration of issues. I try and let my subject lead my work whenever possible. I am interested in the idea of allowing my subjects voice to come through within my work and empowering them by engaging in my practice.

 From the series  Land of Wolves

From the series Land of Wolves

Where did you attend university and what year did you graduate? I attended University College Falmouth and studied press and editorial photography. I graduated in 2012.

What are some standout moments from your time at university? Making mistakes. I can pinpoint moments where I messed up and the lessons these errors taught me. I think a lot of the time it's the quickest way of learning. 

  From the series  Land of Wolves

From the series Land of Wolves

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into, and what themes do you find yourself exploring? Documentary, this is due to the time needed to tell stories. Recently I have been engaging in a lot of portraiture to run along side more traditional reportage style photography. My recent work in my home city of Bath is an attempt to archive a large amount of stories over a long time period leading up to the next election. I’m fascinated by the prospect of editing it all down to a cohesive collection of issues and stories in the future. Documentary photography allows you to do this.

  From the series  Land of Wolves

From the series Land of Wolves

Your work has gained a lot of exposure over the last few years; was this your aim for post graduation? My aim whilst I was an undergraduate was to leave university with a strong body of work that could be published. If anything this was so I could justify my subjects trust in me whilst I moved amongst the sometimes life changing issues they were experiencing. Any exposure you gain coupled with the steady build up of stories allows you more trust, empathy, experience and confidence. 

Can you tell us about your use of moving video in your work? I haven’t really used video in a personal project for some years now, however with my work with Jason and his battle with ptsd I felt it essential to use as when I was making the project it was effectively just two guys rattling around a house in rural Spain. Video was the right tool to use at the right time. I think it’s important to not get too hung up on using this camera or that camera, or multimedia or video. Instead use the tool that feels right for that job.

  From the series  Land of Wolves

From the series Land of Wolves

What are your aspirations for the future? Where do you see your work taking you next? I’m concentrating on ensuring that I’m always shooting something that matters. At the moment it’s tackling whats going on in my local community. The amount of issues playing out in a five mile radius of my home is frankly staggering. I only really feel like I’m now ready to tackle these issues at this point of my photographic journey. I’m also desperate to finish my work in Caucasus. I hope that my work at home will go some way to making that happen.

Do you have any visual influences that always inform new work of yours? I know what I like looking at but talking with my contemporaries recently has opened me up to different ideas to try and introduce into my practice which has been refreshing. I have been revisiting the work of Jim Goldberg recently and always take something different away from his work.

Do you like to give as much information to the viewer as possible by including a short paragraph with each of your images? I think context is important, particularly with some of the stories and issues I tackle, I want my captions to inform my viewer. This stops misinformation or misrepresentation. In my final year project at university all my images were captioned with quotes by the people in the images. This approach has stuck with all of my work.

Tell us a little about Land Of Wolves, the project you’re working on at the moment. This project has taught me a lot, it is self funded and self directed. The initial trip was purely meant to be a research trip to understand the country of Georgia and its people and ascertain what I wanted to focus on. It’s my biggest regret photographically that I have not been able to return to pursue the project since. I’m fairly certain I will be back in the Spring of 2017 and I hope to raise the money to return earlier if at all possible. How your going to finance your work is the biggest hurdle after graduation.

Do you have any advice for new graduates working in a similar style to you? Always make work, be relentless with that. The moment you stop working on personal projects and pursuing stories you become irrelevant in a lot of respects. There are stories on your doorstep, there are stories in far flung places around the world, it doesn't matter. Be honest and committed and be ready for more downs than ups. Personal work keeps you sharp and active. If you graduate and put your camera down and wait for people to come to you then it’s the end, besides if it’s what you genuinely love it’s not exactly a chore is it?