Answering the points posed by my fellow peersAshley
For you, how do these banal images relate to the naked portraits you’re photographing, and how did you move in this direction?
While researching other Queer practitioners I came across Catherine Opie’s project on the home of Elizabeth Taylor; whereby she created a portrait of her by photographing her possessions. The tradition of portraiture usually included some possession to display wealth as well as symbols with known meanings (white for virginity; and the Victorian language of flowers for example). Drawing upon these traditions I wanted to create some simplistic images that hint at the sitters personality as many of the naked portraits will be necessarily anonymous (I can’t show the face so I shall build the portrait from other objects). I also aim to reflect the aesthetically banal shots to mirror how the naked male could be seen; as ordinarily the nude male still has a lot of shock value.
In what ways is this project fulfilling for you?
I gain worth by creating. As my work (hopefully) gives back to my subjects some small boost in self-worth; then the work itself gives me a measure of self-worth.
You mention role-model in your intent. What kind of role model are you hoping to convey through your images and who is this role model for?
The internet generation seems to be the only age that is growing up with positive queer role models in the media (and unfortunately we look to the media to recognise how to judge ourselves). Therefore I hope to reaffirm these positive images of the older queer as normal as well as recognising the tough path we have trod in order to become the people we are.
How has the course affected your work?
The course has made me leave my comfort zone and try out new directions and techniques; which has prevented my work stagnating. Feedback from my peers has been invaluable in how my images are read by others. And the theoretical underpinning (through reading writers on photography) has made my work stronger and more considered.
What are you now doing differently?
I have left my studio and flash-heads to visit my subjects in their own safe-space and rely upon natural light which I am not used to using.
Who are your influences?
For the banal serene objects I look to Rinko Kawauchi and the naked portraits are influenced by painters such as Lucien Freud
Knowing you work outside of the photography MA, what would you want to do differently (if anything) if you were able to work on your project full-time?
I wish I had more time to read and research. I have several books of theory I would like to absorb and re-read. And there are numerous fellow queer practitioners I would like to deconstruct to understand their practice and influences. And to have more time and energy to arrange photoshoots would be appreciated too.
Who (or what) has had the most influence on your creativity(not necessarily another photographer)?
The first subject I shot when I started playing with a camera was so impressed by the complementary way he was photographed it gave him a muc needed boost to his self-confidence. This showed me the potential power of the camera and I still aim to this day to give my subjects that same ego boost.
Is there something you always ask to yourself/think just before you push the button?
I know and trust my cameras so I know the settings will capture what I need. This leaves me free to search for the best frame and composition and when I press the button my mind is already trying to think of ways to change the lighting/pose/angle/exposure as to whether the next shot will be a better version
Some photographers say that they see the world differently, and that they have a different perspective on life. I see the world as a stage and life as the performance. What is your perspective on the world and on life?
I was a voyeur long before I really became inspired by what photography could do. I am envious of my fellow peers who can see landscapes and shadows; light, form and structure when they walk the streets when I cannot see these simple scenes for being completely distracted by people instead.
What does your practice mean to you?
To re-iterate my answer to Ashley. My photography gives me worth; by creating pleasing / thought provoking / complimentary images I justify my place in this world.
For this particular project, have you been influenced by any particular projects or series of paintings?
In addition to Rinko Kawauchi’s serene domestic shots of the everyday; there is Christopher Nunn’s ‘Falling into the Day’ project, Kaylynn Deveney’s ‘The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings’ – all of which show me how to use natural light as well as the importance of simple objects. There is the work of Jean Mailoux (https://www.flickr.com/photos/flegme/) whose empowering naked portraits prove that the male can be beautiful and that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and ages. And Wolfgang Tillmans Gallery Exhibitions show me how to combine seemingly disjointed images together to create dialogue and a loose narrative.
Do you want to convey any clearly defined message with the photos accompanying the portrait or do you want to leave it vague and let the viewer interpret each image for themselves in any way they want?
The images that accompany the naked portrait are deliberately vague. I think ambiguity is a strong tool to hook the eye and draw the interest of the viewer. I foresee the majority of the portraits will have to be anonymous so these banal objects will act as stand-in for the face the subject is unable to show.