FFO: STAND OUT PHOTOGRAPHS OF PEOPLE AND THE LANDSCAPE INSPIRED BY LITERATURE + FANS OF MEATY IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS THAT CAN’T HELP BUT TO MOTIVATE CREATIVES!
Who are you?
I’m Edward or Ned Green and I’m a blag merchant.
Where are you currently based?
I’m from Liverpool but have been studying and working (blagging it) in South London for around four years now. I’ve recently moved from a shithole in Deptford to a shithole in Dulwich but I spend a lot of time in other parts of the city.
What attracted you to want to live and study in the South rather than continuing to do so in Liverpool or any other northern city?
Firstly, I’d rather not regard London as ‘the South’. London is so vastly different from both the South and the North of England that if anything it’s like moving to another country. I loved growing up in the North and still enjoy returning whenever I’m able to, but London always appealed to me on a personal level. In no way do I believe that working creatives have to be in London to succeed in their field, that’s rubbish. But for as long as I can remember I’ve romanticised London, its history and the people who have come from here.
Living and working in a competitive city like London is akin to walking on a tightrope; you are in a fixed state of potential loss and gain. On one hand this incites anxiety and paranoia, but on the other it cultivates abstract and thoughtful ideas into your own work. It’s not for everyone but it’s certainly for me.
What is your current photographic work about?
My current photographic work is no different in its themes and subjects to my photographic output of five or six years ago; I am a photographer of people, not of place. I am interested in an individual’s own expressions and traditions, and how people change the way they act and look when they’re placed in different situations. As Betjeman put it best: “I never write of place first and people afterwards but of people first and place as an inextricable part of them”, and I think the same can be applied to the way I approach photography.
After self-publishing my debut photo book Never Mind in October last year, my most recent work has been concerned with re-interpreting, or perhaps re-contextualizing, ancient myths and poems within the photographic medium. I shot Ovid’s classic Echo and Narcissus for the 21st Faith exhibition, and am planning on doing similar stuff this year.
Why are you so interested in photographing people?
Because people are responsible for most, if not all of the creations in our society (even the environment in its natural form is planted and pruned by humans). What people create can of course be interesting, but in general terms, I’m more interested in documenting either the process of them creating it, or the physical and mental states affected by people’s desire to create things. Though this sounds broad, it can be applied to most genres of photography; people shoot models in a fashion context because the clothes are inert unless worn by a person, street photographers like Dougie Wallace, Parr and Winogrand focus on people because that’s where they find meaningful reactions.
In short, it’s the subject matter I’ve always been drawn to, and if anything, it would be wrong to unpack it at greater lengths.
How did you become interested in using ancient myths and poems as a source of photographic inspiration?
I initially went to Goldsmiths to study English Literature (I now study Media & Communications), and in my first term of English I read a lot of old stuff (Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Homer’s Odyssey, Dante’s Inferno). Many of the characters and themes these stories dealt with were also used by the Pre-Raphaelites, a Victorian art movement of which I’ve always had an interest in. I think the combination of these two fascinations led me to wanting to attempt my own interpretations of these stories through photography and within a contemporary setting.
What got you interested in photography and taking images?
I was first introduced to photography by my Dad who used to shoot on old Russian rangefinders. He taught me about shutter speed and how to use a light meter when I was quite young so I’ve always been aware of cameras and how to use them. Then around the age of 14 I started getting these naff little hand-me-down point and shoots from my brother and his mates. I used to take them into school and shoot my mates doing stupid shit for a laugh, so I guess it just developed from there really. I started to buy better cameras and think more about what I liked to shoot and why.
Who are you inspired by?
Not other photographers. I feel like non-commercial photographers, or any conceptual artists for that matter, need to look outside of their own practice and medium to find inspiration. Generally speaking, I’m inspired by the everyday. I’m interested in the contemporary societies we live in and the type of person that society asks us to be; what clothes we wear and why we are the way we are. Reading the news or going for a walk in a part of the city you’ve not been to before is surely far more inspiring than going to an exhibition and trying to think of something smart to say about why you like William Eggleston.William Eggleston.
I also get a lot of my inspiration from literature and music. I’m always trying to find ways of recreating particular characters from a book in a shoot, or a specific line from a poem or a song. I’ve been trying to think of a way to recreate a shoot around Dan Milligan, the beautifully lazy protagonist out of Puckoon for about six years now, haven’t found anyone hopeless enough yet…
What are your future aspirations?
To get my washing done, eat more vegetables, publish a few more photo books and then become rich and famous.
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?
Do it all yourself and fucking get on with it.
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PHOTO-BOOK FEATURE: Never Mind by Edward Green
Context of the series (written by Edward):
“The book documents the prevailing (un)social behaviour of the city and the weakening affect it can have on an individual’s physical and mental state. It features photographs by myself and exerts of poetry and prose from a range of writers.
Following a move from Liverpool to London three years ago I quickly became aware of a general feeling of tiredness of dejection; an air of despondency that many individuals and architectures in the capital seemed to possess. I set about documenting this inner-city phenomena on weekly trips into Central London and on short breaks to other major European cities. Three years later and I have meticulously compiled together a coherent selection of photographs, as well as accompanying scans of literature, into a self-published photo book.”
What was the process of choosing your front cover image? Why did you decide to use this image in comparison to any image from the series?
I chose that image because it was actually the first photograph I shot for the project. It was taken just after I moved to London and around the time when the concept was beginning to form in my head. Full-size the image was too blurry to use, and although I don’t like to crop my photographs, his posture was just too good not to use. I think it sums up the book’s theme quite well.
How come you chose to use 35mm as the main format for the work?
I’ve always shot on 35mm, that was the format I learnt on and it’s the format I’m most comfortable with. I understand and enjoy the process of loading, winding, and then adjusting aperture and shutter speed accordingly so well now, that it would feel alien to switch to a fully automatic DSLR for the sake of a few megapixels. Also, when you’re out shooting on the street, the benefit of being able to take as many photos as you want on digital becomes redundant, because you’ll often only have a matter of seconds to get your shot. Therefore, the more you shoot on film the better trained you’ll become at getting the perfect shot every time.
Light on surface > algorithms.
Did you travel to each place you visited over the 2 years of shooting with the intention of documenting photographs for this series? or did you only after shooting notice this collective theme within each set of photographs?
Yes. Aside from the odd fashion shoot and my uni work, every time I took my camera out with me (which was most days) I was on the lookout for prime examples of my concept. It became such a thing with me and my brother that even now, if we’re out walking somewhere and see someone resting on a bench, staring into their phone with the hand on their head, we’ll both be like ‘look there’s a never mind’. For roughly two years the project consumed most of my creative drive.
Why did you choose to make a photobook from the series rather than a zine?
As much as I appreciate zines and acknowledge their importance within DIY art circles, I feel as though zines warrant slightly smaller projects. For a start, the book is over 100 pages long and I don’t think that would physically fit in a staple-bound zine. But also a book, in general terms, has a longer life span than a zine. There is a formality inherent in the book medium, which forces readers to think or care for the product slightly more. I wanted to create something that would still hold physical value, as well as conceptual value, for as long as possible.
Did you design the book yourself or work with someone else (e.g. graphic designer) to design Never Mind? Do you feel as if it’s beneficial to work with a designer when publishing your own work into a book?
No, I designed the whole book myself except for a couple pages my brother nocked up for me. This is why I think the project relates so well to what DIY YOUTH are promoting; I self-funded, self-designed, self-promoted and self-published the book whilst working two part-time jobs and attending university. If you want to publish a book or a zine, the only obstacle you should have to face is accessibility. If you don’t have access to the correct software or equipment, then that’s completely fair – I just happened to be able to nick it all from uni.
In terms of working with people, as long as you’ve both got a clear, succinct vision of how you want your product to be visually portrayed then sound, do it with however many people as you want. I just wouldn’t have been able to trust a random graphic designer who has worked with X amount of clients, or a mate of a mate who ‘is pretty nang at photoshop’. I’d rather learn how to use it myself.
Was is difficult to cut down the images used for the publication? Do you ever feel as if you used too many images or even too little?
Yes, I do feel as though I might have used too many images. But if you saw how many I cut out from the first and second drafts, you might think I was being wasteful. Because the shooting time was so long and the concept, in some respects, could be considered quite broad, I was able to choose from a very large amount of images. Actually choosing what went into the book and what didn’t was a very, very hard and laborious process, which lasted up until the day before I had to send it to the printers.
Why did you choose to make an image from literature featured in the series through scanning in the book, in oppose to just extracting the text?
Because I genuinely believe literary publications are works of art. The binding, typography, cover design and wear on old books is so important to the overall feel of what you are reading; that cannot be discarded. A painter will consider the frame, the lighting and the surrounding wall; a sculptor will consider the floor, the room or space, and the texture of their object; anyone reading a book should consider what is physically in their hands, not just the words. I guess I just wanted to convey that through the photographic image in a way that I hadn’t seen done before.
Also, there is a sort of conceptual harmony between the image of a person feeling and looking dejected, and an old, yellowing page of a redundant Victorian poetry book that’s been left to rot in a second hand bookshop. The words meant a lot, but by utilising the page as a photographic image, I was able to add another dimension to the book.
If there’s one thing you could add / change in relation to the publication/project, what would it be? Or would you not change anything at all?
I wouldn’t have got drunk and given away so many at the launch.
You can buy Edward’s publication ‘Never Mind‘ here, or instead keep up to date with his work via his website or instagram!