“Photography allows me to indulge my own interests more than I could otherwise, be this reading, looking at art, or exploring my surroundings.”
Richard Aldred (born 1982) is a contemporary photographer currently based in Malvern, England. He has an undergraduate degree in Commercial Photography from “Liverpool John Moores University”, and a postgraduate degree in Photography from the University of Bolton. For Richard Aldred photography has recently turned from a hobby to something more serious.
Interview with Richard Aldred
Richard, your current project is called “Lesser Monuments”. What is it about and why did you decide to take on that subject?
Individually, the photographs are representations of the specific places before the camera, but cumulatively they evoke a broader atmosphere and sense of familiarity. Similarities of light and colour provide a framework for a more impressionistic take on the visual index.
Monuments are normally buildings or statues erected in recognition of a notable person or event, while the buildings shown here can be considered monuments to the familiar and the everyday.
It builds on previous project “A Better Light”, which was made in a small inner city area, and my MA research into changing perceptions of place in photography.
What comes first: the idea for a series or single images that at some point fit and fall into place to form a particular body of work?
I have an idea for a project and make photographs as part of it.
I also make individual photographs when the opportunity presents itself, and periodically consider what use these might have.
What do you think is important to stand out with one’s work? Especially keeping in mind the over abundance of photographic imagery in today’s society.
It’s important to have something to say, and for one’s photographs to clearly show it. This could be a very subtle viewpoint; it needn’t be campaigning.
Few photographs shared online (where this proliferation is greatest) have a clear interest, and they seldom have a caption or context to help determine one – the photographer concentrated on achieving a look. It’s fine for someone to have that interest, but it’s very different from what I seek to do or wish to look at.
Philosopher Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
“The focus is on seeing rather than doing.”
The quotation’s accurate. One experiences place differently through photography. One must abstract oneself away in considering what of the experience one seeks to represent and how to achieve that. The focus is on seeing rather than doing. This isn’t to say that one doesn’t experience a place or activity when photographing, just that it is experienced differently. It’s also inclusive, as, when I’m photographing, people frequently express interest and ask me what I’ve seen.
Photography allows me to indulge my own interests more than I could otherwise, be this reading, looking at art, or exploring my surroundings.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
Certainly my interests have changed over time.
I initially concentrated on making effective single images. Later, I wished to show more and sought to edit existing photographs into series, then soon began making work as deliberate, researched projects.
I already knew quite a lot from my own experimentation, but studying Commercial Photography strengthened and formalized my knowledge. MA Photography allowed me to dedicate time to a personal project and to research ideas I’d been considering for some time, and gave me a lot more confidence to discuss my work as art and seek opportunities to share it.
Beyond this, I’m continuously improving and moving forward. I’m not as interested in my work of a few years ago, which I found exciting at the time.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Contact photographers whose work you like. Many are very accessible, and are happy to answer questions and give comment.