Short personal intro. I’m a photographic artist. I’m not sure if I fit into any box, but I know which boxes I don’t fit into. I like to find curiosities, naturally occurring still lives, and attempt to give the unremarkable a little attention. Sometimes I imagine myself as a pioneering explorer completely stuck in the dark, not knowing which direction to go, only knowing that I have to keep pushing forward somewhere new. Caveman with a camera if you will.
Your story with photography. I shot my first film on a family holiday in Wales when I was 16. My Dad bought me a camera for my birthday and I had absolutely no interest in it at the time. I enjoyed drawing and making things by hand but I didn’t see the value in capturing something outside of my imagination. I shot it anyway. Developed it at a lab when I got home and I was hooked immediately. I’d never felt like I could express my understanding of the world around me with more clarity. It was like finally cracking a good recipe for dinner and sharing it with your friends. 5 years of study and many cameras later, my life now revolves around photography.
The craziest thing you ever did? Standing in 4 foot of snow for 6 hours at -38C waiting for the Moon to set so I could take pictures of star trails that I never developed because I lost the roll of film.
What is your goal? I wanted to develop my own style from the start. I didn’t want to just photocopy my favourite images. I wanted to take all the things I loved about their images and remaster them like a crazy remix you downloaded of that indie band you used to love.
Where do you think the wisdom and instinct for good photograph comes from? Good photography comes from being able to see things everyone else forgot to see. I always take the challenge of travelling to a visually desolate area and finding the photo, because there is always hiding somewhere. Having an imagination for how things arrived to being is also a big part of it. How did that chair end up upside down with only 3 legs left? Maybe there is a photographic narrative to be created.
In your camera bag. I usually carry one camera and lens, cable release, tripod bits, film, spare battery, army knife, mini screw drivers, and, of course, Lumu. I normally only take out a fixed standard lens so that I can visualise the crop of the image as I look around for images. I shoot in bursts of a few weeks or so at a time taking maybe 10-20 rolls of film with me in my bag. Then I develop and edit them in the following weeks. I try to maintain this rotation so that undeveloped films don’t build up. But there is still time between taking the photo and editing it so I am not affected by how good I thought it might have been when I took it, and how bad it actually turned out.
Highlight one experience of your life. I find it hard to sit back and be proud of something. I just keep staring at the unfinished things, the things I couldn’t quite get right. When I’m too old or weak to drag a camera out with me, that’s when I can reflect on my life. For now, nothing is ever quite good enough for me, as my family always say.
Do you have any kind of obsession? I have an obsession with simplification. Less of everything (except food, I love food). Less cameras, less lenses, less editing, less clutter, purer mind, more room to breath and create. Yes, I am one of those people who has a place for everything, in straight lines, all perpendicular to everything else.
If you could give one advice to fellow photographers… Shoot film. It’s difficult sometimes but you learn so much. If you already shoot film, shoot colour, develop it yourself, move to a bigger format, make a darkroom and print your stuff. Whatever you do, just don’t make it easy for yourself, you will get bored.
Where can people see your work? www.adamjpiper.com