FFO: MINIMALIST IMAGES CAPTURED WITHIN THE EVERYDAY ENVIRONMENT FT TO-DIE-FOR AESTHETICS
Who are you and where are you currently based?
My name is Rachel E Joy Stanley and I am a fine-art photographer based in London.
What is your current photographic work about?
My work is about people — how they create, occupy and engage with spaces, and the traces they leave behind. My work attempts to organise and make sense of contemporary life, asking questions about power, ownership and the balance between natural and human worlds. More recently I’ve been using photography as a tool to engage with design, architecture form, function and minimalism.
What got you interested in photography and taking images?
It is difficult to pin-point the start but I was very interested in reading fashion magazines when I was younger and this was probably my biggest exposure to photography. I had a couple of little cameras growing up but I was given a film camera by my auntie when I was around fifteen and it was from after this that I began seriously taking photographs. This also tied in with the ubiquity of the iPhone and the birth of Instagram, which made the act of making images more commonplace, which I’m sure developed my interest and photographic eye. I also studied it at college, somewhat by chance as I started studying German but found it too difficult so swapped to photography! It was a terrible course.
How did you continue to develop your interest in Photography after studying the subject at college?
I had quite a bad time at sixth form college because towards the end of the final academic year it was uncovered that our teacher had been teaching and marking everything wrong — I was told I was getting an A* but my work was actually at a grade E! I took three weeks off to re-do all my work from scratch and fortunately ended up getting full marks, but the whole experience really put me off photography. It was probably the reason why I didn’t study photography at university; I did Media & Communications so I could explore journalism and media theory as well. When I was at university, though, I was in a flat with a girl who is now a dear friend of mine, Louise, and we always used to go for walks with our film cameras and I’m sure that is what got me back into taking pictures. She puts some of her work on Instagram, if you’d like to have a look. She is very interested in the light, shadows, colours and shapes in the world around her and she helped me to see things with a photographic eye again.
What benefitted you from studying on a degree course, especially gaining one from such a prestigious creative arts university in London?
I didn’t actually study a Photography degree — it was only part of my course which related to photography. This ended up being a hindrance, because the photography aspect of the course was awful. Being at Goldsmiths was great, though, and I spent time with lots of creative people where making things was part of daily life. I was (and still am) part of a community down here in southeast, whilst also being just a short trip away from the hustle and bustle of central London.
How’s your transition been from acquiring your degree to becoming a recent graduate seeking for work in the industry? How have you managed to balance creating personal work whilst also sustaining yourself financially as a Fine Art photographer so far?
The transition from student to graduate was a massive shock to the system which I was very unprepared for. I knew that finding a job would be difficult, but ultimately I thought that if you have great experience and skills and are enthusiastic and hardworking, you will be able to get a relevant job soon enough, but this is just not the case sadly. I was assisting for around ten months but it wasn’t enough to pay rent, so I have just started working full-time and am enjoying spending my weekends developing my personal work.
Who are you inspired by?
What are your future aspirations?
I want to be known for shooting interiors and spaces (really nice ones!), and I want to continue to make my fine-art photography alongside and partaking in exhibitions. I am also in the process of developing a photography-related business and so an aspiration is that it will succeed. I suppose my biggest aspiration is just to be able to sustain myself entirely from taking pictures.
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?
Assist as many photographers as you can while you are still studying, and don’t store any of your photographs on your laptop, put them all on a hard drive!
Do you have any advice for photography students soon to finish their degree?
As I said previously, start assisting! And make a website and nab a good spot for your degree show.