“To me photography is a time to think. Especially when I am doing my own work, it is a very reflective time.”
Polly Braden is a Scottish photographer, born in 1974, currently living in London. She’s a postgraduate at London College of Printing (2003).
In her photography, she is “exploring the relationship between daily life, work and leisure – searching for small and telling gestures”. Since spending a year as a teacher in China, that country has been of special interest in her work. Polly Braden’s book China Between (Dewi Lewis, 2010) is a remarkable document of the everyday life of China’s new urban middle classes.
Interview with Polly Braden
Polly, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
Canon. I set up a darkroom in my kitchen when I went to teach for a year in Yangzhou, China.
Why did you become a photographer?
When I was 21 I went to teach in China for a year. I had the afternoons free so I decided to use the time to take pictures and develop them myself. I ruined lots of film in my home-built darkroom.
What does photography mean to you?
To me it is a time to think. Especially when I am doing my own work, it is a very reflective time.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
William Klein. He is a master of composition, light and he is unafraid.
“Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“The magic of photography is that it is the object which does all the work.”
How would you describe your photographic style and way of working? How do you realize a shooting?
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
Stop worrying about what other people do.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
I like photos that have many parts to them, photos that lead your eye from one part of the picture to another.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
From art, films, articles in the papers, news reports, other photographers, writers, business men and women, teachers etc. I am interested in people, I like to find out about their lives, their work and their families.
How do you keep up to date with new developments in photography, to keep on learning new things?
I look at photography books, I go to shows. I’m not sure I am up to date though.
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
Canon 5D Mark II and a little Contax G2.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
Jason Evans: www.thedailynice.com.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?