I believe that the genre of ‘people photography’ can be separated into three distinct categories – neutral, negative and positive. Neutral photographs are the trivial and meaningless images we see everyday on the likes of Facebook – friends on a night out, snaps of your partner eating the meal you just prepared, selfies… these images neither give anything or take anything away, either artistically or emotionally.
Next is the negative category. Here are the photographs that violate, make lives worse – this can be anything from certain types of pornography to invasive Paparazzi style photojournalism, and a lot more in between. It won’t go unnoticed that I say, ‘certain types of pornography’… pornography, erotic art – call it what you like – in one form or another it’s as old as humanity itself… and I genuinely don’t believe it’s all bad. But that’s my opinion, don’t flame me!
Then the final category… the positive. These photographs make people feel better about themselves, help them realise or release something good in themselves that they felt was absent. These are the photos that empower and enrich people’s lives and the photos that inspire.
Over the last ten years I’ve photographed a lot of humans… I’d estimate the figure to be in the region of about 500, but it’s probably more. Of all those people, I can honestly say that I’ve never published a photograph that I feel would portray someone negatively. People I’ve photographed have told me that my portraits, and the process of being photographed, have helped them to overcome anorexia, body-dysmorphia, shyness and anxiety – even depression. I like to think that everyone that stands in front of my camera enjoys it – not just the finished photograph, but the experience itself. Some people view the images I take negatively, and might even put them into the exploitative category, but none of the people who I photograph ever do.
For the technically curious –
Mae – Canon EOS 5DIII/50mm f1.0
Kirsty – Canon AE1/28mm/Portra 400
Mike – Fuji Instax wide 300
Shauna & Hannah – Fuji GW690III/Portra 400
Georgia – Pentax LX/50mm f1.2/Agfa Vista 200