A simple question but its simplicity of language is deceptive. I have discovered that the reality of such an enquiry is that it forces the photographer to whom it has been addressed to question the very essence of their relationship with a medium that provides them with a creative outlet that is a visual representation of what they think, believe, experience, and wish to convey. It also introduces reflections concerning outcome versus intent, success versus failure and recognition versus anonymity. It is a question that goes deep.
My decision to approach photographers and ask them to answer such a question was based upon a personal desire to explore my relationship with the medium of photography and visual storytelling. It seemed to be omnipresent throughout my life but I had never questioned that reality. I had never considered what it meant to me. Where had it come from and how had I sustained my passion for photography? I decided that to help me answer my own questions I would reach out to photographers and those associated with photography to see if they could help me reach some understanding through their reflections and experience.
The responses were generous, illuminating and honest. Often raw in their passion, considered in their introspection. Most importantly, themes began to develop, themes of approach, intention and desire. The consistency of these themes surprised me but also reassured me that my understanding of photography had synchronicities with the people whose images I admired and was interested in.
Storytelling is a constant foundation for many photographers as is the importance of collaboration. Many reveal a love/hate relationship with the medium, detailing the torment they often feel as part of their photographic process. Others felt the need to place their practice today into the context of their journey, reflecting on those photographers whose words and images informed their own understanding of the medium. Some are up-beat others more melancholic in their presentation, but all are passionate, informed and engaged. Their words force the listener to stop and take stock, they force self-questioning, reconsidering pre-conceived understanding. They make you think.
Every week we ask a photographer to describe what photography means to them in less than 5 minutes as a piece of audio. This is then included within the A Photographic Life podcast.
Every Wednesday at 6.00am BST we post a new episode of the A Photographic Life Podcast. Available to listen, download and subscribe at https://soundcloud.com/unofphoto or via https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/a-photographic-life/id1380344701 or
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Grant’s book What Does Photography Mean to You? including 89 photographers who have contributed to the A Photographic Life podcast is on sale now £9.99 https://bluecoatpress.co.uk/product/what-does-photography-mean-to-you/
Here is a list in order of appearance of all of the photographers who have featured so far:
Laura Beltrán Villamizar
Craig Aitkinson/Cafe Royal Books
Brian David Stevens
Mary Ellen Mark
Philip North Coombes
Colin Wilkinson/Bluecoat Press
Eduardo Soteras Jalil
Hellen van Meene
Denisse Ariana Perez
Ana Caroline de Lima
Esther Ruth Mbabazi
Nolan Ryan Trowe
Jill Beth Hannes