Richard Ansett

Interview with 1st Angel

When did you first become interested in photography, specifically?

My father bought a camera and set up a dark room in the family bathroom with boards across the bath and an enlarger plugged into the light socket.

On which style(s) of photography do you specialize?

It is a form of social realism, although the images are not strictly truthful. There is an element of post modernism in that there is no clear narrative.

Has your style changed from when you first began? If so, why?

The formation of style seems to come in waves; there is an evolution of the style, as it is impossible to continue in the same vein in perpetuity but it is also open to outside influence; exposure to new trains of thought or learning about a previously unknown artist’s work and approach. I am often drawn to specific elements of other artists’ work that can inspire a shift in my own process. It may not always be as directly obvious as seeing a picture and liking it and wanting my work to look ‘more like that’. For instance, I am more impressed by Wolfgang Tillmans process and juxtapositions than the actual content of his work. I have recently bought Drive by Andrew Bush, which is a great exercise in editing and example of the development process behind a book project. Otto Dix is a huge influence not only for the Objectivism but the ability to work under tyranny.

How do you choose what you’re going to photograph?

I do not consciously choose, I am attracted to projects, ideas, people or landscapes that help to promote my world view.

What kind of editing do you perform on your photographs, if any?

Editing is a very difficult process for me; I must place myself into a completely different emotional space utterly separate from that which I occupy when taking a photograph. It is a much quieter place and I have to distance myself from the adrenalized physical act of photography and attempt to view the work objectively. Sometimes the image is ‘infected ‘ by my personal feelings and I cannot truly judge whether it is effective; it can be months before I re-visit an image in the hope that the emotional resonance attached to it has passed or diminished.

The edit can change many times; the way I view an image is easily influenced by outside forces so a finally successful edit has to take place in isolation.

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

I am currently showing two pieces of work at Tenderpixel Gallery; one was shot in 2003 and the other in 2008, both of which I consider complete at this point. But exposing them to an audience at this moment, my feelings about each image may change. I am currently having doubts about one image that I know too well.

What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?

A block for me is the suspension of the physical act of work through fear of failure. The physical reality of creating an image from its original conception can be daunting. There are many technical and creative obstacles to overcome to bring a project to a conclusion and often my original concept is unachievable in reality.

How well do you take criticism and how do you make use of it?

I am proud and determined and sometimes I seem resistant to criticism but this masks sensitivity to others’ opinions that I carry forward into my new work and bring into the editing process of current projects.

Who is your favourite photographer?

There are many contemporary names and old masters that inspire me but some manage to transcend the ability just to take a great photograph, they bring a personal view that exists on another plain to the physical image. Boris Mikhailov

Which one of your photographs is your favorite?

‘Connie, USA 2006’ from the show at Tenderpixel Gallery; whilst being terribly scarred and bruised, she poses like a beauty queen; this is the best she has ever felt in her life. There is a sense of violence and denial here that represented my feelings about the USA at the time.

What are your plans for the future?

A large single themed project and book

What advice do you have for budding photographers?

Take pictures all the time; learn how to physically achieve your visual concepts through improved technical practice. Don’t force your style, it will out, there will be something that you want to say to others whether you are aware of it or not and it may not be what you think.

End of interview

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