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Cooped up in a snug local bookshop on a grey Sunday afternoon I listened with sleepy admiration to the guests discussing intimacy in all its different forms.
I can’t photograph someone until I find a connection or interest between us. We need to find each other interesting and that engagement can’t be forced or manufactured.
Shoot time varies and the pressure to attain a genuine engagement is often suffocating. There are no rules when I work. I don’t have many opportunities to really get to know my subjects well. Equally however, being aware of this means the process is often sped up and small talk is avoided.
I recall hearing rumours of how Mapplethorpe prowled around his studio shooting his subjects like a hunter as he talked with them. I still wonder what kind of conversations took place as he held the shutter release firmly, deliberating on the decisive moment.
So what is intimacy in photography and how can it exist? For me an image needs to evoke emotion and for that occur a subject needs to be present – (not necessarily literally). The essence or atmosphere in an image is hinged on tension and often this lies in the power of the relationship between artist and subject.
We all crave to be connected to others in some way. I am fascinated by human engagement and the analysis of it. Perhaps this is why I struggle to photograph those I know. The mystery of a stranger is far more enticing. I like the game of unravelling how people reveal themselves.