A couple of years ago, I decided to cross credit my Diploma in Professional Photography from 2004 to get into 3rd year at Art school. I did this because I have had thoughts about teaching photography later on in life, and needed to have a degree in order to do so.
So there I was, a technical photographer in an art school, something I would have never considered doing, had it not been the quickest way for me to get a degree. I struggled a lot with Art school…. having to record my ‘conceptual thinking’ (and not just 1, 2, 3 ‘do it’ as I had been taught at Polytech) and be ‘arty’ was not part of my ethos. I found it hard to agree with criticisms of my lack of concepts, when technically and visually, my projects were good. I also couldn’t understand how you were supposed to be an artist, with such little teaching of technical practice compared to my last course.
Art school just wasn’t for me!
But, one good thing did come out my experience at Art School.
For our final project of the year, I came up with an idea that I actually liked. My style of art – one where I could be technical, and create a documentary project that was not only interesting for me, but appealing to others also.
The ‘Us’ project, originally named ‘Us in our Twenties’, was born out of conversations with my close friends. I’d come to realise that in recent times, something seemed to ‘be in the water’. Friends were breaking up, having babies, getting married, buying businesses etc, at an alarmingly fast rate. Things were changing.
I began to think about how much some of our lives had changed within the past year, some changing for the good, some for the bad – but all were completely different from 12 months prior.
Having been very influenced by the works of Robin Morrison, an amazing NZ Documentary Photographer who catalogued our nation from the 70’s to the 90’s, photographing ‘our people in their places’, I decided to document my people in their places.
With a 50mm lens, and available light, my project began. My idea was to photograph 12 people, all friends of mine, but not necessarily connected. They were to pose where they wanted, with their partners or children if they liked, and then write their own captions, answering my question ‘Tell me a little bit about your life right now’. They could be as vague or as detailed as they liked, only divulging what they wanted to.
What came out, was a set of images that were not only a snapshot in time, but a record of what was also behind those images – that we can look back on in later years, and realise how life never really stops changing.
These images will show breakups, babies, hard times, achievements, and love – but mainly, they will be a true record of the people who appear in front of my lens, instead of just a snapshot.
This project will go on for as long as my 12 same people are willing, and I am able!
Above is last year’s set of images, you can find the individuals and their captions from 2009 in previous posts on my blog.
I’ve just started shooting the next lot, I’m trying to do these images every 1-2 years, when I can catch people! – Year two coming very soon!