Metro interview Carl Bigmore, winner of the London College of Communication MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography & the LCC Metro Mentorship Prize 2015
1. Firstly congratulations on winning this year's LCC MAPJD award - it’s an award held in high esteem, what does it mean to you to have won?
Thank you, I’m really pleased to have won. There were so many great projects produced on the MA course that it’s a real honour for my work to be selected. I took a bit of a creative risk with the work that won me the award so it’s nice to have that validated. It’s also special because Metro was the first lab I used in London when I started photography.
2. One of the prizes is a year’s mentorship with Metro Imaging, what are you looking forward to learning or hoping to gain from the experts here at Metro?
Having just completed the MA I feel it’s a really critical time for my career in photography to grow. I see the mentorship as providing me with support and inspiration as I continue my journey in photography. The facilities are amazing so I’m really looking forward to experimenting and pushing my practice with the help of all the experts there. The opportunities seem quite limitless which is exciting.
3. You have a young, yet established career what effect if any, do you think or hope the prize will have on your future?
I hope it will help me refine and challenge my current practice. Having a company like Metro show interest and belief in my work really means a lot. I think it will give me the confidence to carry on and persevere. It’s not an easy time to be a photographer so this really helps me retain my focus and continue working towards my goals.
4. You won your award with your MA work entitled “Between Two Mysteries”. It’s a wonderful collection of landscapes images mixed with interesting portraits; can you explain a little about the background of the project?
Sure, it’s a project I’d been thinking about for many years. I was fascinated with the Pacific Northwest of America and I always wanted to produce a project there but I could never put my finger on what it was that I wanted to explore in the work. After some time I realised that a lot of my associations with the region were through popular culture. Whether that was David Lynch’s Twin Peaks
or the music of Nirvana and the grunge movement of the nineties. I basically went in search of places I knew through popular culture and used that to find the real people of the Pacific Northwest. Those people’s stories then became fused with my fictional understanding of the region. So the project became me creating my own interpretation of the Pacific Northwest through a collection of images that mixed elements of fact and fiction. To echo this idea I wanted the photographs to feel like film stills that dealt with themes of the American Dream, myth, history and popular culture.
5. What is your ideal subject matter, people or landscapes? Or perhaps something else?
I’m really fascinated with the relationship between people and place. All my favourite films, music and photography explore this theme so I would say my ideal subject is a fusion of both, probably an environmental portrait. Whether I’m photographing a person or a landscape it has to be the same response or feeling I have that motivates me to press the shutter.
6. Can you tell us what camera and equipment you are most comfortable working with & why?
That will be my 1958 Rolleiflex
. It was given to me broken about 10 years ago, I got it fixed by one of the last Rollei repair guys in the country and it has been my main camera ever since. I’ve had Mamiyas
as well but nothing matches the Rollei for me. I don’t know what the reasons are but the pictures that come from it have a quality that I love, it’s almost painterly.
7. What sparked your interest in photography and have you always had an ambition to become a photographer?
From a very early age photography was always around me, my Granddad worked for Kodak and always took pictures. Then when I was 18 I started working in London and quickly got introduced to a lot of photography books that became really informative for me. It doesn’t show in my work but Larry Clark’s Tulsa
was a big influence when I started taking pictures. Ever since then it’s been what I’ve wanted to do.
8. Do you have any interesting current projects or upcoming exhibitions you’d like to share with us?
I currently have an exhibition on in Toronto until June at the Harbourtfront Arts Centre, it’s a collection of work exploring the theme of the Deep Woods. Other than that I am working on raising funds to go back to the Pacific Northwest to work on a project that addresses climate change in the region. I’m particularly interested in exploring how fiction and mythology inform peoples anxieties and fears over climate change. I see this project as a continuation of the way I worked on Between Two Mysteries whilst incorporating a more topical narrative.
9. Are there any photography/career goals you'd like to achieve?
As I said photography books are a huge influence for me so I’d really love to publish my work. I’ve self-published a small run of Between Two Mysteries and the book format really suits the project. I was able to incorporate text which I feel really enriches the photographs. It’s something I’m keen to do more of.
Beyond this I want to keep producing my personal projects alongside commissioned work.