Interview with a Trampfire

I was recently interviewed by a lovely student at Huddersfield University about my photography. I never miss a chance to wax non-poetic about what it is I love and sometimes hate to do so here is what I had to say. 

How did you get into photography?
I got into photography when I decided on a whim to go to university after working a rubbish job for a few years out of college and wondered what course could I do that would teach me something I was interested in but never really saw myself working in that field. I skimmed through a prospectus and saw ‘contemporary photography arts’ and I put a portfolio together in a week and went for an interview and got in. I made the best of my three years by taking advantage of the access to cheap film and free processing, but like all creative endeavours, education can only do so much, it’s your own obsession that carries it further into your adult life.

What do you look for in a subject when taking photographs? 
My main focus is street photography, so the subjects in my photographs are usually everyday people interacting in a mainly urban environment. I try not to narrow myself too much when making photographs of people, I never set out with the goal of photographing a certain age, race, gender, class etc. It is a much more free-flowing almost meditative process. I walk with my camera and life unfolds around me, my senses are just heightened to it as I am purposefully looking to steal moments from it. Saying that it’s impossible not to be somewhat biased. I am drawn to individuals who stand out from the norm, the old woman with the bright pink hair, thick rimmed glasses wearing a fleece covered in kittens is always going to be more appealing to me than the cookie cutter teenager who looks like a JD Sports manikin.

What inspires you about Huddersfield that makes you want to photograph it? 

It’s hard to answer this question without sounding like I am just shitting on Huddersfield because the reason why I constantly try and document the town has a lot to do with how dystopic it feels. It’s really not fun to make photographs of paradises, i’ve visited them, they are overrated. The town is slowly crumbling as more and more high street businesses shut down and the streets slowly fill more and more with desperate people and the homeless, and the council don’t seem to care or do anything about it. At the same time the town has a beautiful charm to it, it’s a true multicultural melting pot, go down to the market on any Saturday morning and you can fall into a sea of ornate shalwar kameez mingling with two piece tracksuits, grandmas dripping in gold, the filthy and the suited and booted. The same can be said about most yorkshire towns, go to Halifax or Leeds and you will see the exact same patterns emerging, its just more evident to photographers because we are looking for it. I photograph Huddersfield because I am here and its my town, for now. 

Can you give me some hidden gems and areas you’ve found when taking your photographs that you feel aren’t appreciated enough? 
No they are all secrets… My favourite spots in Huddersfield to make photographs are specific stretches of streets. What I call Wilkos end, which runs from Max Spielmans to Home Bargains is my no. 1. I really like The Cherry Tree up to the Mcdonalds. The top road by the bus station and the top sainsburys are also good, as well as the market. I have walked down every back alley and side street in town at this point and the worst place to try make photos is the main street, it feels too dead and normal to me. 

And lastly what is your number one tip for taking photographs?
Consistency. Show up every weekend or free day you get, walk and don’t think. Press the shutter and steal your moments because there is only one of each and you’ll never get the chance again. There will be days you have no confidence and make 2 frames and others you will make a full roll easy, even after 10 years of practise. Try not to procrastinate and just keep making photographs, everything else will come in time.

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