I was drawn to photography from a young age. I remember asking my parents for a camera when I was 9 or 10. Then in 2006, when I was 20, my father gave me a beautiful old camera. I loved the object and resolved to learn how to use it properly; it’s fully manual so you have to understand how to balance light correctly. A few months later I bought a polaroid camera and became obsessed with making polaroids. The excitement I felt making those first instant photos has never gone away. I started exhibiting in 2010 and since then it has been a steady process of making work, exhibiting and building connections. I don’t think photography is something you can you can rush; you need time for your work to develop.
My process is intentionally slow, which is a reaction to how busy and connected we are today, so in general I’m drawn to quiet places. Often this takes me away from the city where the pace is slower and you can lose track of time. I want to evoke a timeless feeling in my work. I like photographing certain people I know rather than professional models because you build up a kind of intimacy over time and the photos are more honest. Last year I made a series of photographs in L.A. that I called ‘Mulholland’ because the work centred around one house on Mulholland Drive and the woman living there. Mulholland Drive runs for miles along the top of a mountain and I was struck by its very particular atmosphere. Those images were about capturing the mysterious aura of the place.
‘Beyond Borders’ was an exhibition and auction in aid of UNICEF’s “Children of Syria” emergency appeal. We got donations from 20 contemporary artists including big names like Diana Al-Hadid, YZ Kami, Moshekwa Langa and Ali Banisadr. Sotheby’s UK chairman Harry Dalmeny conducted the auction. All 20 artworks sold and we raised over £70,000. Since everything was donated, 100% of proceeds will be passed on to UNICEF, who are on the ground in Syria distributing emergency supplies to vulnerable children. I was proud to be part of it.
To me, photography doesn’t get better than the work Sally Mann made in the ’80s and early ’90s, which was published in the book ‘Immediate Family’. I love her dedication to the subject, her technique and the extremely intimate feeling present in the images. I was impressed by Richard Mosse’s ‘The Enclave’ when I saw it at Venice Biennale in 2013, and by Nick Brandt’s new series ‘Inherit the Dust’, which I saw a few weeks ago at Photo London. It’s really moving.
I had a solo show in Paris last month and I currently have an exhibition at the 11th Fotografia Europea in Reggio Emilia; it’s called ‘Wanderlust’ and is part of the official circuit of the festival. As for what’s next, I am showing at the ArtAttack launch exhibition and I want to begin making my second moving-image work over the summer.
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