'My Life in England' Parts 1 & 2 2000 - Present
Q & A ( August 2005)
Hi, Mike, welcome to bananacake. To start at the beginning, what started you off in photography?
What I find interesting is that I never took a photograph until I was at college, by the time I did I was all set on becoming a painter, so when I finally started taking photos I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what to do, so I ended just taking pictures around my house of the Hoover and the food cupboards, I remember a lot of my fellow students saying I was going to get in trouble over it, what I found interesting then was the way photography could elevate something very simple and allow it to be looked at.
Can you remember the first photographs that impressed you?
The album cover to Sebadoh’s 'Bakesale', featuring a baby leaning against a toilet. (Click here to see this image at Amazon.com.)
Name a favourite photographer and what do you like about their images.
It has to be Lee Friedlander, I just love the fact he never seems to keep still, such a vast amount of different works, His later self-portraits are some of the most beautiful and tender images I’ve seen, I love the fact he’s fallen asleep in many of those images.
Was there a defining moment in your own photography - and, if so, what was it?
It has to be when I was rid of university, I had pretty much stopped taking photos at that point, spent a lot of time thinking and trying different stuff, So when it was over, I just picked up my camera and started shoot the streets, up until this point I’d shot in B/W and mostly in the home. It's so liberating when you're in charge of your own work you can play about more take more risks get things wrong, group crits usually kill off these ideas before they get chance to develop.
Have any British photographers impressed you and why?
Many, Peter Frasier, Tom Woods in particular and recently I discovered Raymond Moore, which was a revelation to see the images he was making in this country.
How often do you take photos?
Varies, I can go weeks with out picking up my camera and then all of a sudden I’m shooting every day.
Are there any photography writers that you have enjoyed reading?
The best thing i've read so far on the subject is Robert Adams books Why People Photograph and the Beauty in Photography,
I always go out and shoot when I dip into those books, there isn’t enough writing that inspires art.
Describe how you work, when you have a camera with you. And what are you aiming for?
I’m never aiming for anything, I’m just go about looking at stuff
You often use shallow depth of field, reflections and perspective effects for instance to create complex images - how did you come to work like that?
Shallow depth of field comes from when shooting inside where the light levels are lower, and I never use a tripod so I always went for as wide an aperture as possible.
I like to use as much of the frame as possible, so I look for different ways to try and get as many things working at the same time, but always working as one photo. I try to do this with the greater collection of the work, the shallow depth of field came from when I used to shoot inside the light levels were lower, and I never liked the tripod so I always went for as wide an aperture as possible, so I could reduce the shake.
Have you done any commercial photography?
It’s just something that’s never come up
Would you do someone's wedding photographs if they asked? : )
Ha, maybe but only if they realize that they might not get anything they want.
What is your work/creative life balance?
I work full time so the balance isn’t really to my advantage.
Occasionally people appear in your photographs but always only in peripheral ways - why is that?
I’m more concerned with photography and looking than capturing an observational moment of life or street life, so capturing people in my images aren’t my main concern, so they tend to get thrown into every thing else that’s going on.
If someone is with you, out for a walk say, and you are photographing, do they get pissed off with you for slowing them down?
No I’m usually very quick, If I’m out on my own my looking becomes more intense, and you can’t really tune into that when you out with people, I’m happy to let good photos opportunities pass me by, there are always more to be had.
Society seems to be becoming increasingly paranoid about street photographers - do you feel pressured by this?
I heard from other street photographers who have had a lot of hassle, they are usually shooting people, which is a bit different to looking down at some crisp packet.
Have you ever had any hassle in the street when taking pictures?
Been kicked a few times, I once got accused of casing a place out, when I was taking a picture of a bush.
Do you see yourself as actually an artist who uses photography rather than a photographer?
How many good photographs do you usually get from a shoot?
I don’t make many multiple images, so all the images are different, and sometimes images can take along time before I see what’s going on in them, so its hard to tell.
Does it take you long to edit your work?
I edit along side making the work, and I’ve been working and part 3 of this project coming close to five years, so yes in takes a long time.
What do your family and friends think of your photos?
I think they like them.
Finally, off the point, what's your current favourite film, CD and book?
I haven’t got a current favorite book; the last one I really enjoyed was The Dice man, film it has to be Napoleon Dynamite and music The Who live at Leeds.
Thanks for your time, Mike!
Mike is an artist working in photography , painting and sculpture and lives and works in London, He has exhibited in both Hull and London and is currently working on part 3 of his 'My life in England' project.
e: Mike Ryder mob: 07890714632