Ubiquitous

I started Art College back in 2010, it seems such a long a time ago yet when I look back over my work it can feel like yesterday. Going back to education was one of the best decisions I ever made. I rushed into things years ago when I returned back from travelling; picked the wrong course and when personal turmoil meant I had to move home, I was left feeling like I’d wasted so much time.

But it all helped shape where I am, who I am today. That’s the thing with loss; there really is only two options once you’ve hit rock bottom. You can become embittered and angry at the world, deciding it owes you something to make up for all that it has taken. That pain will eat away at you from the inside until all good that enters your life is brushed with the slick poison of fear and fury. Or you grit your teeth, somewhat reluctantly and feel the pain in your heart as a reminder that you are still alive. The best way I’ve found to remember those you’ve lost, is to nurture immense gratitude for your own life and to make it as happy you can on your terms. Find contentment in the small things and work through each day until your smile isn’t just a mask on your face but genuine in your heart again.

That is what ‘Ubiquitous’ was all about. My final Degree project. The culmination of 4 years of soul searching and confidence rebuilding through photography and writing.

An extract from the foreword:

“This series explores the journey through loss; rediscovering the world and your place in it after that time.The sense of uncertainty and confusion is all-consuming after a loss as you search through the haze for traces of normality and what was once present. Using photography this story is told through varying shades of light and shadow, hope and despair, life and death. Bereavement can create a time of readjustment, a quiet period of contemplation which canbecome a catalyst to start seeing everything anew. Like ripples on the water, change spills out further than you first realised.

A curiosity and comfort can be found in the mundane; everyday moments revealing beauty and sadness, the simplicity and greatness in everything. And as you make your way through the dark towards lighter moments the horizon no longer feels so far away. Although everything will always feel more delicate, more fragile, like it could be blown away in a breeze. So you cherish the sun on your face, the sound of the crashing waves and when spring returns you finally realize that what you seek cannot be found in any fixed place. It is found everywhere.

This work has grown to represent all those tiny moments, shattered fragments, the missing pieces. They are the quotidian, the banal and the profound. They are the visual footprints through the loneliest yet most universally human experience we have. Hopefully it can serve as a reminder that as well as grief and sadness, comfort, love and hope are not a rarity.

They are ubiquitous.”

All rights reserved © 2014 Jennifer-Anne. Do not use without the 
artist's permission.

When I finally held the book in my hands it was like a relief, there was something so cathartic about releasing all that I had been carrying around for 4 years. As cliche as it may sound, it was the work I was meant to make there. But instead of feeling like the end, I think it’s really only just the beginning.

To see a preview and/or order a copy, please visit my Blurb Bookstore

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At what cost?

So during my make-up free period, I used the time wisely to look into the products I was using and the companies that make them. What I discovered has changed my shopping habits forever. I genuinely had no idea how much animal testing still goes on in today’s society.

I wont retell specific incidents I’ve read about because quite frankly they are heartbreaking; the pain and suffering that innocent creatures are put through for us actually turns my stomach. Rabbits, dogs, cats, monkeys, even deer are just some of the victims of this.

Did you know this?

Because of the amazing work of the BUAV the final stage of their ‘No cruel cosmetics’ campaign was put into place March 2013. No animal testing on cosmetics occurs within the EU and there is a ban on importing products from outside of the EU that have been tested.

So we can all rest easy now then? Unfortunately not.

Yes, ok, YOUR EU stick of mascara wont have been tested specifically but you’re still supporting companies that do test elsewhere in the world. Now if that’s good enough for you, well that is your choice, it’s very easy to deny this awful process and companies make it very easy for people to do so. But remember there’s a whole host of other things that are still allowed to be sold in the UK, tested or not, that includes household cleaning products. So don’t be polishing up that conscience so swiftly.

There is no need for these cruel procedures to be carried out. There is a lot of information about the alternatives available now:

“The information that has historically been gained from animal tests is increasingly being replaced with quicker, cheaper and more reliable non-animal methods. Many of the animal tests used to test cosmetics ingredients have now been replaced.

These modern methods are more relevant to humans and have been found to predict human reactions better than the traditional outdated animal tests.

For example, to assess skin irritation alternatives such as Reconstituted Human Epidermis, like the skin model EPISKIN, can be used. These tests use reconstituted human skin donated from cosmetic surgery and have been shown to be more effective than the original cruel rabbit Draize skin test that they replace.

Models also exist and can be used to replace cruel animal tests for eye irritation, the effects of skin sensitization can be predicted by looking at proteins in-vitro (in a test tube), and phototoxicity can also be assessed with a cell based test.

Furthermore, companies can prove their products are safe by utilising established ingredients. There are, for example, almost 20,000 ingredients in the European Union’s database for which safety data is available.” -Taken from Cruelty Free International

The trouble is companies make it very hard for consumers to distinguish whether or not the have good policies outside of the EU. At first it can feel like a bit of a minefield trying to shop responsibly but websites like Go Cruelty Free offer great support.

Check out their Cruelty Free Shopping Guide

Personally Superdrug has become one of my new favourite places to shop. ALL their own brand products are BUAV approved and they are great quality. I have everything from body wash to the suncream. And their B range of skin care and make up is brilliant.

I can be hard to change habits but if you do even just scratch the surface with reading just a little of what goes on within some companies, I’m sure you’ll think it worthwhile. I know I haven’t always got it right due to tricky loop holes in policies etc but the point is to at least to try to support our lovely furry friends. It’s an issue so much bigger than just cosmetics as I’m slowly finding out one horrified step at a time, but perhaps just start with looking at your make-up and household products to make better choices.

If you’re unsure and don’t want to do all the digging around and emailing to find out a companies policy, just look for the leaping bunny logo. That way you know it is BUAV approved.

They don’t have voices of their own so we must speak for them through our actions.

At what cost do we want great products? Just because something is vulnerable it doesn’t give us the right to take advantage. Every living creature deserves a good life and freedom.

Follow these pages on facebook or use the links I’ve highlighted.

 

 

Bare faced challenge.

Back in November I set myself the challenge to go make-up free for 3 months. I have worn make-up since I was about 14 or 15; it started as most stories do, to make me feel more confident and hide bad skin. But as a clueless teenager I was actually highlighting my problems by applying too much…and then there was that awkward stage where no powder was thick enough for me so I resorted to patting on a layer of natural eyeshadow. Yes, you did just read that.

I’ve continued to wear make-up (no eyeshadow as foundation anymore) pretty much everyday over the years just as part of my daily routine, I wouldn’t think twice about going to the mirror to apply it. And because I had become complacent about this everyday task, I wanted to address my relationship with cosmetics.

Why do I wear it? Is it to do with confidence? Am I thinking about the products I’m using? How do they effect my skin?

Before I undertook this challenge I was very sporadic about skincare, all I cared about was looking smooth and *cringe* ‘perfect’. It seems very foolish now.

The first morning I was really excited, but then I got dressed and went downstairs looking and feeling ‘unfinished’. When I stepped outside I had a moment when I wasn’t sure I could do it…but that is what made me carry on. That moment of worry about what other people might think was an indication that it was still perhaps something I associated with my confidence. And in my on-going quest to find true contentment with myself by challenging and questioning societies portrayal of appearance, I knew I had to grit my teeth in the name of research!

It was a strange few months. I very quickly got used to not wearing anything on my face and soon completely forgot that I was bare faced on all occassions. I went to a couple of functions and went through the whole Christmas/new year season (with one very red nose…how foolish of me to pick the coldest months). It was empowering because I knew a few years ago I couldn’t have done it. Some people commented on how ‘brave’ I was for doing it, which is where the discomfort started setting in and the realisation of how ingrained our expectations are for women to look ‘beautiful’ and like you’ve at least ‘made the effort’.

But lets get this straight before we go any further…

I am not saying there is anything wrong with wearing make-up. But I think it is important to evaluate why you wear it. I’ve gone back to wearing it, but the experience was invaluable because I was able to measure my confidence without anything to hide behind. When we live in a media driven society that sells the attainment of beauty and perfection as a commodity, it’s good to strip it back and check in with yourself that you’re still ok with you under there. That your confidence isn’t set in your appearance and that you know your worth is not tied to it.

Now lets talk about the amusing downside to the whole thing.

A few people thought I was ill.

I was asked for ID for EVERYTHING! At 26 I was refused sale on a Euro-millions ticket. You have you be 16 to buy those.

A school boy flirted with me on a bus.

A lot of people nervously asked me “Are you ok?”

But all you really want is some pictures right?

BEFORE

AFTER

 

So the ‘before’ was taken November 2013 after I had removed my make-up with a branded face-wipe and face wash. That’s one red face eh!

 

 

 

This one is taken end of January 2014. I have done my eyebrows in this one but my skin is completely clear of product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have always had red pigmented/slightly blemished skin but I’m certain the constant make-up use and not considering the best products for my face contributed to this. I haven’t got many selfies to document this period, simply because I always looked the same so it got a bit boring.

Anyway I would urge anyone who wears make-up a lot to try the bare faced challenge, you don’t have to do it as long as me, perhaps try a few weeks? It’s a great way to evaluate your relationship with your appearance, see how others react to you and simply to give you skin a bit of a break. I had to start looking after my face properly when I had nothing to cover it with which meant making sure I always drank enough water and tried to balance my sweet tooth with more fruit and veg. I’m also much more relaxed about myself now, because I know I’m confident in what’s underneath. On the whole it was a really positive experience. I went back to make-up gradually (much less as my skin felt too caked otherwise) simply because I enjoy putting it on. I learnt a lot about the cosmetics industry as well….but that is for another post.

Now go on, get naked.

Interview: Endangered Bodies

I have always been interested in women’s representation and ever since starting my degree I have had the opportunity to explore these ideas further. Over the past 6 months I have been researching this and related topics for my dissertation which questions ideals of female beauty.

I came across AnyBody UK and was fascinated to find such a fantastic resource for the types of issues I was looking into. I was lucky enough to get an interview with the London team to discuss their work.

Tell us about Endangered Bodies and how it all started:

Endangered Bodies is an local-global initiative launched by the international Endangered Species summits in March 2011, held in LondonNew YorkBuenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Melbourne.

As of April 2013, Endangered Bodies has chapters based out of London (also known as AnyBody), New York (via The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute), Buenos Aires (AnyBody Argentina), IrelandSao PauloSydney (run by Body Matters Australasia), Germany (AnyBody Deutschland) and most recently, Mexico.

We, the London team (along with Argentina and Germany due to the translation issues of Endangered Bodies) identify as AnyBody UK, which began as a blog convened by Susie Orbach in 2002 as we have a strong following using this name, it can get a little complicated at times!

We are a society that are more visually literate than ever before yet we still buy into the marketing strategies that sell us the belief that we are “not good enough”. Why do you think women have become so disillusioned with their bodies and how has it become accepted as ‘normal’ to dislike ones appearance so much?

Well there are a few factors that have sadly converged to help along this ‘normality’

As we all know a great deal of money can be made from manipulating insecurity and desire so aggressive marketing strategies have capitalized on this very cleverly, advertisers are using the rhetoric of the body acceptance movement to cajole, comfort, guilt or shame potential customers into buying their products.

Then there’s the rise and rise of celebrity culture and cheap gossip magazines pitting women against each other constantly with their school-bully mentality, heaping praise one minute and shaming the next.

There’s also the filtering of a commercial porn-aesthetic into the mainstream further cementing women as a passive object, often with a body quite removed from natural reality.

New technology and social media have also had an impact, as the numbers of manipulated images we see on a daily basis is in the thousands for the average person with a smart phone and access to the Internet on other devices

However ‘knowing’ we might all be about advertising and even how images are manipulated, the sheer volume of visual media we are exposed to and that we also process very quickly before reason has a chance to kick in, is staggering.

How and in what ways is this enduring negative mindset affecting women?

It’s affecting women and girls (and ever increasingly men and boys) in pretty much every aspect of their lives to greater and lesser degrees, depending on their resilience and confidence about their bodies. The statistics are extremely worrying, 72% of girls will avoid ordinary activities like going to school, to the doctor or voicing an opinion because they do not feel they look good enough, they feel ashamed. Shame is an extremely powerful emotion and the use of it by the fashion, beauty and diet industries and even the government who are weighing school children with the discredited BMI as a guide to their health, is disturbing.

Your ‘Ditching Dieting’ information is very interesting and along with other resources has finally cemented my view that the so called weight ‘crisis’ we are apparently faced with is nothing more than a business model constructed to induce fear and make money. Do you think we will ever be able to break the cycle, how can we tackle such a powerful industry when it holds such influence?

Such a tough question, there is huge potential to break the cycle, but you’re right, the diet industry has so much money and power at its disposal and, crucially for companies like Weight Watchers for example, they have passionate advocates who are emotionally invested, people who are Lifetime Members (if it was so great why would you need to be a member for life?!) and despite having to keep returning will defend their chosen programme. Weight Watchers and other diet programmes do have some good points, mainly the regular meetings for mutual support, many people rely on these meetings, bond with others and even make friends. The fact that these meetings could be free of charge or virtually free of charge and even better, free from weight stigma and a space for discussion about food, well-being and dealing with emotional eating, is something that would be great. Great for those who feel they want to get healthy and share the burden of how society and the media make us feel about our bodies, but obviously not so good for the diet industry.

But also there are huge issues around health which do need to be addressed: sedentary jobs, stress, mental health issues and poor nutrition resulting from low income are factors that need to be taken into consideration. What many people misunderstand (because it profits so many that there are such misunderstandings) is that you can be bigger and still healthy, in fact many of the practices people follow to lose weight are extremely unhealthy. Thinness at any cost is destroying many lives. Really what we need is to help people understand, care for and occupy their bodies, rather than seeing them as something troublesome that does not conform and that needs to be flawless and thus over-hauled, made-over or fixed. To single out one thing is to miss the point, health is holistic and we need to tend carefully to our minds and bodies without the intrusion of shareholders’ interests.

Your work links a lot with feminism; the connotations of which are constantly being redefined. Through its evolution it has been marred with the assumptions of needing extremist views and hatred towards men, causing a reluctancy amongst some women to declare themselves as such. But what is it really to be feminist today?

Yes, absolutely, feminism is inextricable from what we do partly because I don’t think there’s a woman on our LDN team who wouldn’t identify as such and partly because we see ideas around valuing oneself, diversity, positive representation and equality to be inherently feminist. We follow and share all sorts of feminist resources online and try to all stay as informed as possible around gender debates and related issues.

Also it’s not a women vs. men thing, that’s far too simple and aside from it painting a horrible stereotype of us all as man-haters, it also ignores the fact that men can be wonderful allies that benefit as much as women from feminist achievements as women and such a simplistic explanation forgets that some women can be fierce misogynists because they feel they would benefit more from patriarchal ideals than a balanced world.

To be a feminist today could in some ways seem more complex than it was historically because of the co-opting of the language of liberation by profiteers and also because of the different kinds of things we need to do throughout the world and in our own lives. How do we help? What is most important? We know about so many more social and political ills thanks to technological communications, sometimes being worried about where to start is a huge task. Ultimately the achievements of feminism, civil rights and human rights and rightful challenging of various prejudices, means that feminists must be more inclusive and thoughtful of potential discrimination. Feminism is about challenging the idea of a binary split between the genders, that we recognize ambiguity, imperfection, fear and vulnerability for what they are, part of human experience and accepting these things and accepting ourselves and others. Believing we should not be discriminated against because of our biology, gender, race, abilities, sexuality, class or geographical location. Being a feminist in a nutshell means understanding that we are all human with strengths and frailties and we all matter as much as anyone else.

How do your campaigns aim to target the self-loathing epidemic? What changes does Endangered Bodies want to achieve as short and long term goals?

Our Ditching Dieting* Campaign aims to give people a voice and speak out about their experiences of dieting, so many people feel ashamed that they’ve ‘failed’ even though the diet industry sets everyone up to fail as they need the repeat custom, if the diet industry really cared about their customers’ well-being they would become victims of their own success and rightly so, any business or organization who wants to help people who are struggling should really hope for a time when they are no longer needed. This campaign has been dormant for a while as we are quite stretched for time since we are all volunteers.

*When we use the term Diet (to be ditched) we do not mean a person’s diet i.e. what they generally eat day to day ‘a balanced diet’, we mean a programme that is finite and centres around restriction, deprivation, points, calories, measuring, indeed anything advocating an unnatural way of eating that ignores ones bodily cues in order to lose (or even gain) weight.

Our Shape Your Culture project, has been, and hopefully will continue to be, fantastic and effective. It is part Media literacy, part consciousness-raising and part activism. We work with young people to unpick the falseness and bias of mainstream media, we ask the groups we work with to question what they see, hear and even say themselves in relation to bodies and body image and ask them what they’d like to say, do or change and then help facilitate their completion of a project.

We have seen confidence, friendships and support networks grow over the first nine month project and couldn’t have been happier with the outcomes.

In short, with our campaigns we want people to feel they have a voice, that they are agents of change in their own lives and potentially the lives of others. We hope that we can help people feel more at home in their bodies and not be so desperate to change something if they can learn how to understand and care for themselves. We believe that DOING and getting engaged is the way to help facilitate such changes and we hope to continue to do so.

How can like-minded people get involved with Endangered Bodies?

At present we’re not able to manage volunteers as we’re all volunteers ourselves and are a bit swamped searching for funding and various other projects. But, we have created an online Activist Pack which is free to download from our website and contains all sorts of resources, from an intuitive eating guide, to tips for hosting a Ditching Dieting Speak Out to images to circulate and raise awareness, so for now we’d love for people to use those resources, spread the word and get inspired and as soon as we’re able we’ll be taking on volunteers to push everything further!

A huge thank you to the team for their response. They are very busy individuals doing a great job. Spread the word and get involved!

Follow on twitter: @Anybodyorg @Endangeredbodys

 

Life is a balance…

…of holding on and letting go.

I read this the other day and thought how true it was. Balance is so key to all of us and how we experience the time we are given. We make choices of what we hold near to us and what we let drift away or even push, so it’s important to know that you’re doing either for the right reasons.

My personal journey has seen me cross paths with this idea recently; emotional de-cluttering is more cathartic than you could believe! In the last couple of months I’ve felt a great increase in pressure of Uni work, attempted to deflect the ever persistent questions of “What are you going to do after you graduate this year?” and also, sadly suffered a personal bereavement. All events which are common and relative to us all in some way. It is our reactions to these situations that determine how we move forward, how we attempt to stay balanced.

Now when I say ‘balanced’, I think that can often conjure some misconceptions. An image springs to mind of a juggling act or a plate spinner, both of which are skilled to keep so many elements in play at the same time but it does not evoke peace, more like underlying tension. And perhaps in our increasingly chaotic culture the meaning of balance has shifted. It is seen as the achievement of spinning more and more plates at the same time and still being able to move. At some point though your arms will get tired, you might start to lose focus and the balancing act becomes more of a stress-managing act. True balance is being able to put down a few plates every now and then, even the lot and not beat yourself up about it. We all do it in different guises; I did it about this very blog, set up as an addition to my college work and an outlet for my writing but when other things had to take higher priority I felt guilty about not writing and that’s when moments of enjoyment become ‘tasks’. When enforced expectation takes over.

There’s always lots of discussion about not living up to cultural and social standards but what I’ve found the hardest is measuring up to the ones you set yourself, disguised as someone elses’ so there is someone to blame when you’re not hitting the mark. But they aren’t stone pillars, they’re just stakes in the ground that can be moved whenever they need to be. And that’s where real balance lives, in between the ever-changing guidelines. Really look at what you hold on to and make sure it makes you smile.

You don’t have to stop ‘wanting it all’ to achieve balance just don’t have it as your life goal. Accepting the transience of all things will help expose your enjoyment and appreciation of what you have already and the importance of the present moment. Holding on and focusing on what is now and letting go of expectations, negativity, of past and present.

Balance is much like contentment which I have mentioned before. Although it is intrinsically linked with happiness, that is not all of its story, it is much more about acceptance.

Acceptance of highs and lows, light and dark. We can’t be balanced with one foot in the past and one in the future, you have to be rooted in the presence.

So what’s the moral of this psychoanalytical waffle?

Well, when you’re feeling like it’s all too much and you need a time out perhaps you should…

check your feet and put down those plates!

And here’s a nice little story to round this up, taken from The Buried Life:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Joe Cornish Interview 2012

When I first started at Plymouth College of Art it was fascinating to be introduced to all these new sources of inspiration and photographers, out there making a living doing what they and I love.

Although I myself do not shoot many landscapes one of my first real inspirations both through his imagery and his passion for work was Joe Cornish who I discovered in a lecture and in his book ‘First Light’. When I found out he was going to be in the local area running workshops I contacted his gallery, crossing my fingers someone would get my message. Joe himself replied and was kind enough to meet me one morning, giving up his spare time before starting his workshop to chat to me about his journey in photography.

Thank you for setting aside the time to meet with me, it’s much appreciated. 

I’d like to start with how it is that you got into photography? In terms of the route you took professionally and also what sparked your passion.

Well I first started using a camera, 35mm at University when I was studying Fine Art. Nearly almost straight away, the moment when I picked up the camera I knew I love it. I started off using it in my first year and then started to get more creative throughout the second, third and fourth years, so by the time i graduated I was quite experienced and was taking pictures all the time.

When I graduated I really only had one thing on my mind: how could I get into professional photography? I had no idea and was very much on my own. I knew one photographer who was in America, Mike Mitchell in Washington DC who I had met before on a trip to the states. I knew his sister in law who was an old University friend of mine and after I graduated I got in contact with him. Luckily he wrote back and said that I could come over and if I was in Washington we might be able to find you a job. And that is how I started in photography; as an assistant to an American photographer. I twas a lucky break but of course it wasn’t easy but nothing is and it was worth it.

That leads me nicely on to my next question. When you were starting out, how did you go about generating work for yourself?

It’s very different to having a structured job, employment where a lot of the decisions are made for you; most photographic work is freelance which is still true and probably even more so today. I think the most important thing is you must exploit any contacts you have but you also have to be very imaginative within your work and where you look for opportunities.

In my case I was chronically shy and I still am quite shy strangely enough, but you’ve got to do it, got to push yourself. You put on your best smile and go out and talk to people.

In my head I had this vision of being a landscape photographer but I didn’t know how to do it, I mean there’s relatively little work in nature photography, well that’s paid anyway.

So in my case I started out taking pictures of people, portraits for actors for the actors book. My brother was a young musician so that lead me into the area of photographing musicians. Any opportunities that arise you really have to take and for a long time it wasn’t really making me any money and you have to be prepared for that.

I’m interested in your focus on landscapes in particular; what is it about these open spaces that keep you motivated to continue to photograph them?

That’s a really good question, quite a human question when you thin about it, I mean why do some people prefer to be outdoors with nature and others happy milling around in the city? It’s simply because I love being outdoors, I love the fresh air and I’m an active individual. Also that I’m very inspired by light, colour and texture. I have an art background and I think the things I just mentioned are the greatest source of inspiration for artists.

To be outside is a natural thing to do for me and especially being shy when I was younger it was the natural thing for me to do to avoid much contact with people [laughing].

Recently after working for many years with film you’ve made the switch to digital. What made this decision for you?

I should state I haven’t given up shooting film. I’d like to regard myself as a photographer, not a digital photographer or a film photographer. I’m shooting digital at the moment having made the investment into a digital medium format back. The beauty of making such an investment is after the initial cost of the equipment the costs are relatively low and all you are paying with is your time. Whereas with large format film it can be £5 per exposure with 5×4 and even more with 10×8.

The digital is a nice change after all those years of expense, although I don’t resent or regret them. I have a wide range of shooting methods all of which I fell are still relevant and therefore use particular ones for what I feel is appropriate for the style of shoot.

I feel that I am working towards using digital and film so you can’t see the difference, you shouldn’t be able to see the difference. To me  capturing light and composition, yes the process of arriving there is different but the intention is exactly the same. It is how you capture it and how you print it and whether it’s film or digital it really is very important to get the best results you can in camera.

Then you have the element of interpretation, if you choose to make very subtle changes within post production and how you choose to print. All these elements and stages should combine to ensure you get your artistic interpretation across as best you can and to the highest standard.

What are your views on contemporary landscape photography and how the critics tend to favour the dead pan aesthetic over the picturesque?

Having come from a Fine Art background I’m always slightly uncomfortable being characterised as a picturesque photographer but I completely understand why people would say that.

The art world sneers at the picturesque which has a lot to do with intellectual snobbery. Why there is this distain for the beauty and inspiration of nature I’m not sure, I really don’t understand. Of course we must challenge creativity but like I said the distain seems incredibly short sighted.

I don’t see dead pan as being a directly negative towards nature, I just see it as another style which is how some people approach nature with. Like Gursky and Burtynsky, but I love that work, absolutely fantastic.

It’s a more cool and clinic way of exploring something whereas with light I feel it’s more of an emotive language.

I enjoy many different styles of photography, dead pan is just another preference. Essentially what I think is, that it is important to be true to yourself and indeed your own styl

What advice would you give to students such as myself starting to find their way in the photography industry?

It’s about working hard and I expect you’ve heard a lot of that. It’s difficult to make a living as a photographer but then it’;s never been easy to make a living as a photographer but people still do it.

There is work out there but like I said you have to be prepared to work hard and always develop your photography, don’t get good at something and become complacent. This also means developing the business side of it as I’d say 90% of it is based on human relationships, your client, customers, models and so on.

You have to been incredibly adaptable, very diplomatic, sometimes tough but fair and sensitive to the people you work with. This is part of your role as an artist; to exercise emotional intelligence.

Be prepared to go out, be pro-active, smile a lot and do the things you need to to do get work.

Thank you very much for your time, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

All images ©Joe Cornish 2013. Visit the online gallery.

Fresh faced….

A lot has happened since I last posted and in blog-world A LOT of time has passed!

It was also time for a new look 🙂

I took some time out of social media as I was exploring my newest degree project. The idea that I had so firmly in my head all summer of concentrating on body image was disintegrating before my eyes. At first this was very daunting, final year can create a very pressurised environment but instead I chose to step back and re-evaluate everything right back to when I began studying photography and convinced myself I would NEVER understand exposure.

What I found looking through nearly 4 years of work was very comforting.

For someone convinced they hadn’t found their photographic ‘style’ mine was suddenly very apparent to me and what was even better was to understand that it was there all along. However without this experience of education I would never have had the confidence to identify this. Returning to college will always be one of the best decisions I ever made; sometimes the risks are really worth it.

And so I retraced my steps throughout developing project ideas and headed off down a different path. Now this is not to say all the work I put in previously is now obsolete, quite the contrary, for without it I wouldn’t have been able to get to a more solid grounding. It also doesn’t mean that I simply lost interest in the topic of women’s representation and body image. This will always be close to my heart and on the tip of my tongue ready to debate hence the reasoning to pursue it within my written dissertation. However, my fine art, abstract sense of photographing subjects simply doesn’t lend itself to creating a strong, coherent messages, which are needed to deliver the depth of information to enforce my opinions on the subject. It was a decision I struggled with for a while but compromises had to be made and more than often they work out for the better.

My research and previous work has led to much change for me in terms of values and future aspirations. And at the risk of tipping you right over into uber-chipperness, it has led me to this happier point with a good sense of self-worth in my work.

A snapshot of things to come?

Quite moments of contemplation. Contentment in the balance of light and dark within our lives. Much like the sea, new things are bought in and the old swept away; but with a slight shift of the tide it can just as easily be the other way round, you never know. Scary and beautiful at the same time.

I saw this the other day that made me chuckle.I’m so used to the comments on contemporary art like “My child could do that!” or “What’s the point of that?” or the classic “What’s so special about that? ANYONE can be a photographer.”

Yes. They can.  But just remember….