Below is an interview published by Shutr Magazine (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) in conjunction with a feature on the photographs, titled Affinity.
How did you come up with the ideas to photograph your 'Affinity' series?
I didn’t have the idea ahead of time and then set out to make pictures for my Affinity series. It was more a case of having accumulated a fairly large number of pictures over time and retroactively recognizing that there was this common thread running through them all
- Can you elaborate on the specific way you photographed the people and what kind of tools you used?
Each is different in both my approach and the tools I used. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way of working to my approach with this series. People are different and the situation is different each time. Mostly, I have a camera with me all the time and I pounce on candid moments while just being with people, as I see a potential picture beginning to unfold, I try to ‘snap’ the moment. It is unrehearsed. At other times, I might steer or direct people. These days, I very seldom setup or stage a portrait.
Regarding the tools, I have tried so many different cameras looking for the ideal one which either doesn’t exist or is unaffordable. I was using a film camera, then a full frame dslr, then I tried a fixed lens aps sensor, then a m43, and now i have a full frame mirrorless. I have even used a phone camera. But the point I’d like to emphasize is that it doesn’t matter too much. Whatever is comfortable and convenient for you.
- What do you actually want to depict with these images, what do you want to show?
I want to depict the connection between people in a positive way. I wake up every morning and there’s more bad news that upsets me. The word seems to be going through a very difficult time right now politically, socially, economically and the environment. I feel that showing the affinity and love people can have for one another is an antidote, and gives me and others hope, courage and a good feeling about being human.
- What attracted you to create such an intimate portrait of these people and how did you combine the right subjects?
It’s simply what I see. At least it is what I want to see. When I can, I grab the moment as it happens. I don’t say, can you do that again for me please . These are real people not models, so I didn’t ‘put them together’. I simply want to pick a moment that feels like a high point. A point of connection, that shows the affinity they have for one another. It’s important to me that the images are authentic. There’s a famous quote, which I believe is credited to Martin Buber, that “we do not see things as they are, we see things as we are”.
- Was there anything specific you were looking for regarding the relationship between these people?
Affinity, intimacy, love, connection, bond, togetherness.
- Is there a certain feeling you want to cause with these images?
In my opinion, this is the most important thing. To have a good relationship with someone, or with many people, is what gets us through our difficult times. It is for these kind of pictures to appear frivolous, even ‘cheesy’, but I think they’re important, so I take them seriously, and work hard at making them.
Remember, it is not only the gesture that we are talking about which makes a picture, but also the other visual elements - light, line, composition, tone which contribute to conveying the narrative or feeling.
Do you have a message with your series - a specific way people should look at it?
Look around you and see it in your own life. At home with family, with friends, and out in the world. Notice it. Embrace it. Let it warm your heart. We all need positive feelings and mood.
- What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully these will be important pictures for the subjects to look back on in 20 years. A wonderful memory. Even a treasure for the generations. I hope that the images also maintain a lasting artistic integrity, because they are not concerned with fashion and passing trends. They deal with what is at our core, an ‘inner life’, and that crosses cultural, generational, and boundaries of time. I hope to continue doing this forever.
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