A student named Katie emailed me asking about Bad News.
Hiya Ian, I am currently suddying A-level photography at college and my current project title is ‘emotion’. When looking for insperation for my work i came across you, after looking at your work i thought ‘Bad news’ related mostly to my project title. Altough i enjoyed looking through your photos i couldnt find any information on what inspires you etc. If you could tell me a little bit about your work and what inspired you i would be very gratefull.
Thankyou for your time,
Thanks for emailing me – I’m always pleasantly surprised to hear from students looking at my work.
Bad News, though possibly overwhelming in its final form (as a surrounding installation, still not put up anywhere unfortunately), is really relatively simple in concept. They’re pictures of people who have been asked to remember the first time they were confronted with really bad news. I didn’t give them a definition of the term, so what this meant was up to them. I just let them sit in front of the lights for a few minutes and think and when it seemed like they had hit on it, I took the picture.
The images are basically a typology and I don’t find them particulary important as singular images, but that’s because I think of them as a whole group. I suppose if I first encountered one image instead of having taken them all together, I might feel differently.
So the images themselves have a simple premise, but I like to think that opens them up as meditation points, almost. One can look at them and try to share thought with the person in the picture. Or, you could look at them purely aesthetically (I tried to bring out overlooked detail through the process I was using, also fit with the rough emotion theme). The images are loaded enough with the two word “Bad News” title, I didn’t really feel a need to push much more text on them.
For the installation plan, I was looking at the work as an instrument for catharsis. The room would be dark, entirely covered with the images of faces, with soft audio recordings of people’s first negative memories playing behind the images. The entrance door (or possibly curtain) would be dark and not let in additional light, but the exit, on the other side, would be lit harshly or seem to go into a large white, quiet, space. Apply metaphors as needed.
Hope some of that helps. A lot of my work is very different and most projects don’t stem from the same inspiration. I honestly couldn’t say what made me feel like I needed to do a project on Bad News, but it just seemed like something everyone had as a shared experience.. something a little less hokey than “first crush” or something along those lines. I’m not a particularly melancholy person, haha.
The installation idea formulated as I was shooting and was wondering how to outwardly express my own inward vision of the faces (when I close my eyes and think about the project it’s sort of like a dark space with faces floating, so maybe my intention is to just bring you inside my brain.)
About my other work, my mother recently wrote something about Gray Days that you might find interesting, and some of my own writing can be found at Ahorn Magazine. Besides that, I write a lot at my blog and post many things that are very inspiring to me. I just made a post about Zoe Strauss, who is an amazing image maker.