Last month I had the pleasure of attending a group exhibition entitled ‘Art in Mind’ organised by The Brick Lane Gallery London. This is an ongoing group exhibition offering emerging artists a platform to showcase their work to a fresh and growing London audience. One of the artists is photographer Elizabeth James. She kindly agreed to share her thoughts on her preferred medium and the prospect of exhibiting for the first time.
How did you get into Photography?
It was something natural that just happened. I remember as a little girl looking down in to the viewfinder of my mum’s old Baby Rollie Flex 4×4. I was fascinated with the camera itself, its mechanisms, how it worked and the end results; which in those days were not instant, film was sent away to be developed. I was 9 when I got my 1st automatic camera, through trial and error I learnt and for my 18th birthday, mum gave me my first SLR camera, a Pentax which I still have.
Which photographer has influenced you the most?
Irving Penn, an American photographer known for his still life, portraiture and fashion photography (world war2 feminine chic and glamour photographs. Penn created images of great clarity and detail. This is something I aspire to achieve in my own work utilising my own artistic instincts and photographic vision. His subjects were vastly varied and his prints have a clean/clear appearance. Whatever the subject, his composition stands out; his work is confident and bold. I find his approach to his subject very similar to mine. I enjoy capturing parts or sections of my subjects and leave a little to the imagination. Like Penn, I strive to capture the essence of my subjects.
Photography, controversially, has at times been perceived differently to other visual art forms. Do you see yourself as an artist and your skill as an art form or something bespoke?
It took a long time for photography to be accepted as an art form. Photography is to document, express, create, visualise and record. It is a combination of subjective thought, creative imagination, visual design, technical skill and practical ability. The camera is a visual notebook affording the user power and purpose and it is also a powerful medium of persuasion and propaganda.
You had your first public exhibition last month. How did it make you feel and what’s next?
Yes, I exhibited 6 Boxed Canvas Photographs as part of Monochrome- an Art in Mind Exhibition at The Brick Lane Gallery London E1. Opening night was very exciting; there was a very good turnout and an indescribable atmosphere. It was more than I ever imagined. It was so nice to finally see my work hanging in a popular and established gallery in London. I am currently putting together a few exhibition proposals for 2011-2012, whilst establishing contacts within the art industry, with a view to collaborating on projects, creating a web presence and building a body of work focusing on structure & architecture. I hope to have my work published, gain further commissions and opportunities to exhibit
What would be your advice to other budding photographers wishing to establish their careers?
My advice would be: don’t be put off by mixed opinions, try to come to terms with rejection, not everyone will like or appreciate your work. Listen to constructive criticism, take it on board, address it, learn from it and move on. Stay focused, persistent and just do what come naturally to you. Enter competitions, submit and apply, if you don’t inquire you will never know if it was your style of work they are looking for. When submitting, do your research, only supply what is required.
Please visit Elizabeth’s website