I caught up with a good friend and fellow Photographer Rob Davies to talk about his work and the current state of Photography.
Eric: Hi Rob, first of all you know I love your work. One of my favourite aspects of your work is the way you seem to be forever “chasing” light. Where did this observation develop?
Rob: Thanks a lot man. I mean in terms of ‘chasing’, I never really do… with the sun/moon being the all controlling source of light which creates the medium in which most of us work; it’s always there. I’m concerned by simply how it falls, illuminates, separates and unifies spaces. I began to study it on a more conscientious level mainly during long afternoons ‘slumming’ it in University houses and studios. I guess it was the meditative second you get to take out of life to frame it up, breaking up the monotony of grayscale mind states.
Eric: Your observations are simple yet insightful and it works very well. Does this outlook come from any other source of inspiration, other than how you observe it?
Rob: I’m a fan of minimalist art so people like Malevich and Stella, along with new topographical photographers/designers which are obvious stylistic influences, but as far as ‘observing’ subjects, I guess everyone’s eyes are different. I could list off all my influences and inspirations; who I read; whose photography I study, whose art I recognise, designers, musicians I respect. But I think regardless of all this; everyone will pick out different things from a subject when lined up and put on the spot. I’d be naive to just say like “I just do my own thing”, “I’m just me blah blah”, the mind is a real storm of information, I think the real beauty of photography all depends on what you’re looking for, and how you transcribe your interpretation of the information around you.
Eric: So which direction do you see your own work developing? Or for that matter how do you want your work to develop?
Rob: It all depends on what I’m around and what’s happening in life, having time and having inspiration. For example a lot of people in the apparent ‘circle’ think that you have fallen off if there isn’t a constant online presence and uploads of photographs etc., truth is now I keep a lot of my work for myself and close friends, but I’m still doing what I have always done, frame up my life. I have boxes and folders of rolls I’m using for upcoming zines and print shows; even down to rolls I haven’t processed yet. It’s just how I work, it’s an organic process - I work when I want, with whatever situation I’ve landed myself in (or whoever). As for direction I want to take… I guess you’ll just have to wait and see my upcoming projects. A lot of media/genre cross over stuff and collaborations will be released early 2014.
Eric: Can you tell us about the upcoming Zines and shows you’re working on? What’s the zine about, what do you aim to achieve with it and who may be involved?
Rob: Yeah I’ve got an Everest stacked plate at the minute, I’m working on one zine with a collection of artists I’ve been promoting it quite a lot recently, it features HGD, Matt Wooton, Jack Springthope, Gayle Lazda, Sleepwalk and Cheaplife plus Myself; Pretty DIY roots based project which I have curated, similar to how the Themeless shows ran a couple of years ago. There isn’t really a goal to the first zine, I just wanted to hook up with a bunch of photographers and friends to release some work with. I had just come out of a major dry spell due to working 60 hour weeks in the real world, and felt it was time we put some print out and test the water; success dependent, who knows what could happen. It WILL be out this January hopefully - print cost dependant, we’re all on a shoestring out here!
I have a future zine and print show in the pipeline with Leeds/Nottingham brand FTS (https://twitter.com/FreshThreadsCo), my dudes have been getting me involved in some photograph/product design/modelling/illustration mash up, but the cards are quite close to the chest on that one.
Basically I just want to work with others, push my own practice and just help out generally. I’ve been at the same stuff for years now, and I know others will feel my frustration. No one’s going to do it for you, so I’m gripping it up with both hands from now on.
Eric: I suppose money is always a factor in these things but if successful, is the Zine something you’d like to do on a regular basis? Build on and idea and progress, something like Don’t Sleep Magazine has done?
Rob: I mean yeah of course I want it to blow up. If it does do well we will do some more work I’m sure. I feel print based media is becoming redundant and I hate it. 2014, I’m going to flood you with zines purely because it’s simple, cheap and effective way of getting work out, work that isn’t just from staring at a square screen. A publication like Don’t Sleep, is quite far beyond what I’m capable of at the moment, (design and quality wise at least) but it would be ill to get there one day. There are plenty of cool little crews and even individuals putting publications, shows and events on all over the world… all deserving equal support.
Shout out to everyone doing things for themselves.
Eric: I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews on the subject of Instagram and “iPhoneography”. Basically in short, people making a photography career and money via Mobile Photography. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Rob: Well I kind of do, but I’m not sure I use my iPhone for a lot photos. If I’m out and need to remember something I take a quick snap but I’ve never really cared about media, format or anything when it comes down to photography. Obviously I can appreciate a crisp 4x5 properly exposed and all the rest of it, but it’s the content and time that matters to me; disposable, phone, SLR, Polaroid, whatever as long as your results good.
So no, I don’t have a problem with it if you’re using photography properly. If you’re an ‘instagrammer’ trying to use the apps to cut corners, and the hard work out of building a network for yourself by spamming, it’s on you that you’re doing that.
100k followers and every filter available on every photograph, ‘selfies’…cool, good for you. At the end of the day you’re getting anonymous ‘likes’. Focus on those that care, not those that don’t.
Eric: I agree with a lot of what you say. Instagram has its place. It’s fun and can be a useful tool for quick photos. Do you think now with Social Media and being able to ‘advertise’ yourself easily, that there seems to be more focus of gaining followers rather than focusing on developing a series or work or a strong body or work?
Rob: It can be a useful tool, but in the grand scheme of things. It’s quite limited really and patronising to a degree as well. It spawned a whole generation of awful Instagram cross processing kids. Blogs are much better I feel, just not as fashionable in the current climate. Exposure is important… you have to get your work seen and network with other artist. It’s more the means in which popularity is achieved that I’m concerned with at the moment. In a nut shell, don’t beg for it, don’t be a cliché. We’re all guilty of hashtags and other internet bullshit but c’mon. You know who you are, stop being so predictable.
Eric: With the prospects of becoming a photographer for up and coming enthusiasts, do you have any lasting advice for them?
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