University West of England
As a photographer, I have found myself exploring a range of projects and, though initially and primarily working within the area of fashion and styled portraiture, I have used these skills to enhance my way of visually exploring ideas in other subject matters.
In this project, 'recreational attire' I stepped away from the forever developing fashion trends I usually use to dress my subject and instead explored the garments that rarely change: the 'uniforms' we wear for the sports and hobbies we participate in. These garments serve a practical purpose, to both unite individuals to represent a team and to protect and equip the individual to suit the environment in which the activity is performed in.
To show the types of uniforms people wear for sports and hobbies, I contacted numerous local clubs in Bristol. This enabled me to meet divers, ice hockey players, rugby players, dancers, boxers and surfers, all ranging from different ages and walks of life. Some people do these sports as a way to keep fit and build on a skill, but for others it's a social activity in which they can meet and enjoy the company of others in their local area.
After pitching my idea to the members of recreational groups I then (after some persuading!) arranged for some of them to meet me fully dressed in their uniforms worn for their hobby. However, I wanted to photograph them in locations out of context to where they'd usually be seen doing the activity. I did this to add emphasis to the uniforms so that the viewer is intrigued by the subject, who looks slightly surreal in this new habitat, thus making my photographs unlike how one would expect a sportsmen to be photographed.
I was influenced by a range of photographers throughout my project; my first influence began with one of my former tutors, Matt Theodore. His series 'British Divers' features male divers wearing gear that almost disguises them as individuals, making them appear surreal. I also looked at photographer Craig.G.Howe, who did a series on young athletes stood in outdoor locations, which I could relate to for my own project. This encouraged me to consider the camera and technique I use in order to show my work in a different manner to other photographers dealing with sport-based subjects. Steve Schofield's project 'Land of the Free' was also very inspiring to me in regards to making people appear surreal and out of context within locations.
I now plan to continue this project and explore broader activities in which people participate in, and which requires a type of uniform. This project was a lot of fun, and I hope an element of this humour comes through my photographs, along with my creativity of combining elements of styling with locations to communicate an idea.
I feel as an artist a sense of freedom. I can observe the lives of everyday people one day and be creating shoots with models, make-up artists and stylists the next. There's no right or wrong answer, it's about determination, sharing your visions and waiting for others to appreciate it.