For ‘??Life As It Should Be’ you photographed the Egyptian Red Sea coast, what brought you there?
I had been going to that resort for the last 7 years with my family, sometimes visiting the coast three times a year. My interest for this project started only two year ago when I became fascinated with the developing architecture. It was also a break from the photography I was doing on my course, I was so wrapped up in ideas that the act of photographing was lost. I found it nice to explore a space photographically for once.
How was it going around a space and an area that you have associated with family holidays and trying to explore it in a different way? In a way it seems to reflect your re-exploration of the photographic process.
It was energizing to find a new way to experience a place I knew so well. You can get a bit bored of the going to the same place, so I think I was searching for a way to excite me about the place again. It totally reflects my relationship to photography at the time, I always find it funny how much my feelings come into my work. It seems to all fit into place. With this project, unlike others I had done before, I really wanted to move away from my own relationship to the place, becoming more of an observer. For me what made the project successful was that I put my emotional understanding of the place into that work photographically, instead of in the statement.
“I always want to create a new way of experiencing photography that reflects the project context. I’m a sucker for being different!”
From the photographs one can’??t really tell that this is a holiday resort, did you specifically stay away from the landscapes that one more closely associates with the Egyptian coast?
You know there was something just too complete about those landscapes. If I had photographed maybe one of the hotels I don’??t believe you would have got that same feeling. When I went to those environments I was treated like a guest, like the person they were waiting for. I don’??t wanted to be treated like that, I wanted to be in the feeling of incompleteness, that waiting. The places I shot had that solitude, that classic conveyance of longing that for me mirrored the feeling of ‘??off-season’??.
But I must also say that all the places that I shot were or are going to be a iconic symbol of a holiday resort. The path that leads to nowhere, will be a golf course, yes a golf course in the desert! Those empty landscapes will be a part of the new development in the area, under the name Ancient Sands, which was a working title for the project.
Your images convey a sense of the loneliness and isolation, with a lot of roads seemingly leading nowhere and barren landscapes, are these a reflection of your personal emotions whilst shooting the area?
I guess I picked up on this in the last question but yes it was a total reflection. I went there alone, it was just me, a camera and the desert. It is funny really how classic photographer it was. For me it was more the feeling of searching that I see in that work, you look down those roads and wonder what you will find. Know that it will be the same desert that you past, the desert is a weird place!
Politically Egypt has been through a lot of turmoil, did this come into your work at all?
I found it very interesting when I showed the work to people and having them say how political the work was. It was never my intention to make the work political but I can see how capturing the quietness of the holiday resort could echo the political unrest. In some ways I feel the project reflects the holiday resorts’ stand on the political issue, ‘its something that is happening but not here so don’t worry and enjoy the view’.
To add to that the title of the project, ‘??Life As It Should Be’?? is the tag line for the resort, maybe that says it all?
One thing that really struck me about your work when I saw it at Free Range is the colour scheme, you have shot a lot of black & white, whilst in your colour photographs a vivid blue very much dominates, how did this colour scheme develop?
I had shot there in both colour and monochrome and I couldn’??t make my mind up on what worked better, so I went out there will ten rolls of slide colour film and ten black & white. When I was there I worked on the mind set of b&w for graphic, textural images and colour for colour. When I came back I sat at a table which was half b&w and half colour. The task of editing was not easy and I still have images which I want to show. But what it came down to with the colour images was the richness of the blues and the gold sand. I wanted them to feel idyllic, playing with paradise in a way.
There are no people in your images, but off-camera how did the local population effect your work?
I had a few odd looks but mostly where I was shooting there was no one around.
Now that you have graduated, where next?
I will be moving to Amsterdam in October where I will interning at a photography gallery, I am planning on doing a project out there as well. My work has really changed over the last three years and I wouldn’??t have guessed that I would have been doing landscape work, but I love it. I am hoping to go and exhibit ‘Life As It Should Be’ in Egypt, so getting that on the road as well. Oh and I will be exhibiting a small part of the project at Gallery Photo West over the summer. So yeah, a range of plans.
You talk about returning to the act of photographing, how do you see your work evolving from here?
It’s always hard to know where your practice is going, at the moment it is about trying to keep it going. What I do know is that I work well by myself in a place where my only objective is to photograph. That intensity works well for me. The work I see at the moment being mainly landscapes, but not in the traditional sense, I always want to create a new way of experiencing photography that reflects the project context. I’m a sucker for being different!