Liam Collins

University: University of Cumbria

Graduation: 2015

Genre: Portraiture

Artist Statement: My chosen series is called Audiotypes.

Audiotype images are created using a unique photographic process; they are a combination of a long exposure portrait and a visualisation of a recording of the subject's speaking voice. The images contain more of the person than a traditional photographic portrait, they contain their voice and their mannerisms but captured in an abstract way.

From the series  Audiotype

From the series Audiotype


What are some standout moments from your time at university? Some standout moments are our final exhibition which I think the whole class should be very proud of, we exhibited a wide range of quality work. Winning the Young Cumbrian Artist of the Year award and getting involved with Carlisle Photography Festival were also highlights for me.

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? Experimental Photography or for this particular project, Portraiture.

What themes do you find yourself exploring? I saw Alec Soth speak at The Photography Show in March; at one point he was showing some of his early work. The images were weird still life shots made in the studio with cityscapes projected in the background and by his standards they were bad. He told us that as photographers we need to try everything; try street photography, wildlife photography, wedding photography, astrophotography, etc. So at the moment I am exploring everything I can think of and trying to find what it is I am most passionate about.

From the series   Audiotype

From the series Audiotype


Can you talk us through your first solo show? It came about when I was looking online at galleries in Newcastle upon Tyne. I stumbled upon System Gallery and noticed they had a submissions page, so I submitted my work to them. They liked my submission and then we met up and decided all the details, when to exhibit, how many images etc. I made the large prints myself with the help of a couple of friends who have access to a large format printer. We then brought the prints to the gallery and put them up with the help of Egle and Jacob who run the gallery. It went well; the opening was very busy and the exhibition was on for over a month so plenty of people got to see it. It was an incredibly useful learning experience as I found out how much work goes into putting on an exhibition and how matters are conducted outside of a university setting.

How did you make your images? I made these images using a digital camera and a digital sound recorder. I then converted the sound file into an image file and put the two together using Photoshop.

Why is it important to you to include the sitters voice in their portrait? It is important to include the sitters voice because it is another part of them. I wanted as much information as possible contained in the pictures, not just a photographic likeness. Most of the people speaking were telling me their name, when and where they were born so all of that information is in the images too.

What do hope for your images say to your viewer about each of the sitters? The images are hard to read. My original intention was to create something that gave more information about the sitter to the viewer than a straight photograph does. My images can give a clue to what the person is like as the long exposure shows the subject’s movement. You can guess that if they move a lot they might be energetic when they speak or nervous that they are in front of the camera, or if they are still then they are comfortable speaking about themselves and having their photograph taken.

From the series   Audiotype

From the series Audiotype


Was there a particular reason as to why you chose to study in Cumbria? I chose to study in Cumbria because when I went for my interview the staff were so helpful and welcoming, I immediately had a gut instinct it was the right place for me. The Lake District being right on the door step was appealing as well but it only featured in one project. It was not as big a source of subject matter as I thought it would be. 

Are there any stand out photographers who always influence your work? Not really. I tend to take inspiration from different photographers depending on the project I am currently working on.

How did you choose who to photograph for Audiotypes? Do you think who sits in front of your camera is important to your viewer? I chose to photograph people in my photography classes and people I lived with at the time. The Audiotype method was going to be applied to a group of former prisoners I wanted to photograph who had been tortured with loud static played for days on end while they were in captivity. So the images I took of my friends were just a trial run but the logistics of getting to another country and locating these men proved too difficult. I abandoned the plans I had for that project and the trial images became the final Audiotypes work. I do not know if it is important to the viewer, the viewer does not know that people spoke in different languages and talked about various things.

From the series   Audiotype

From the series Audiotype


Tell us about your Young Cumbrian Artist of the Year Award. Has this given you any unique opportunities? Winning the award did not offer any specific unique opportunities. But it has helped open doors in many other ways. It helped when organising my solo exhibition at System Gallery, as the curators were impressed that the work was award winning. The £500 pounds that came with the prize was also useful as it helped me buy various photographic supplies and a new camera which I could not have afforded otherwise.

Can you tell us about any future goals you have for your work? My future goals are to continue working on projects that I think are interesting and produce work that is of high quality. I want to continue to be involved in group and solo exhibitions and producing a photography book sometime in the future is also a goal.