In support of our exhibition Adrift, we’re asking our exhibiting artists four questions to help you get to know a bit about them and their work.
‘Paul Smith is Course Leader in Photography at Amersham and Wycombe College in Buckinghamshire. He studied for an MA in Photography at Goldsmiths College (MA in Photography and Urban Cultures), a BA (Hons) Fine Art Photomedia at Central Saint Martins and is now studying for a PhD at University of Nottingham researching the British approach to American suburban landscape (focusing on the New Topographics). His weork has been published in several Scottish magazines following a project set in Sighthill (The Soda Waste), Glasgow and at The Exit Gallery, London focusing on European landscape photography.’ (via Photoworks)
What can a photo do that other representations can’t? What is it that made you choose photography over other media as a way of communicating?
Where photography differs from other representations is in it’s ability to describe and represent both the point in time the shutter was released and the slice of reality captured within the image. Photography does this with an aptitude on both an aesthetic and descriptive level. It is this that I believe separates photography from other representations. My choice in using photography over other medias is two way. Firstly, I enjoyed photography as a technique and how it works in various locations and under differing times and light sources. Secondly, photography has a way of capturing and storing a reality which I could return to and deliberate over at a later date. This, I believe, keeps me coming back for more.
What’s the first thing you remember photographing and why did you choose it as your subject?
The first photograph I can remember taking was with a fellow BTEC student at night on a foot bridge over a motorway. We were both studying photography in Rochester, Kent and decided to photograph each other. It was our first photography shoot and I wanted to experiment with long shutter speeds. We found ourselves without a tripod or a flash. The results were interesting.
How does your photographic process work, where do you start? Is it with a theory or idea, or is it driven by aesthetics or a desire to use a certain technique or piece of equipment?
The first process, for me, is definitely with an idea. After the idea I research. I start to research the history of the location and form an idea in my mind about a working title. I find through reading theoretical books of photography and researching the work of local artists gives me a better understanding of the place I wish to document. The concept and methodology will follow the initial ideas stage and from this the practical landscape work will follow. Only occasionally will I photograph a place and know nothing of the people, culture or landscape. With the consistent objectivity in my work, the equipment, which includes a Mamiya 7, tripod and spirit level, always seems to follow on behind.
Have you found photography to be an effective research tool? Has it uncovered ideas which have changed the path of your thinking?
For me the photograph is the final outcome. Research can inform my photography and influence my technique but the final result is the photograph. Through researching the work of other photographers (e.g. Robert Adams, William Christenberry, Joe Deal) my approach can be strengthened and technique fixed.
What’s your favourite f-stop?
It has to be f64.
Paul’s website is currently under development however some of his work can be seen on the Photoworks website.