Your photographs embrace colour and contrast. Is colour a motivating factor for your work in this series? Have you worked in black and white as well?
In my early 20s I got a real camera, and started shooting black and white film and developing and printing in a darkroom. That went on for 2-3 years, but for various reasons I abandoned photography again for the better part of a decade until finally getting into it for good. I am very glad I had the experience of the darkroom, there is something really enchanting about the tactility of the whole thing, and I also love black and white photography on an aesthetic level. In fact, when I took up photography yet again, after moving to New York in my mid-30s, the main reason I initially switched to color was that I no longer had access to a darkroom, and it was much easier and cheaper to just have my color film developed at the pharmacy. But soon I discovered that I really loved color, and also that I was doing much better work in color. Still, I don’t believe in color for color’s sake – it should not take over a photograph at the expense of other elements; it’s a fine balance. It also depends on the subject-matter: I’m still open to occasionally doing black and white work when I feel that b&w will better convey the emotional tone of a particular theme or situation, for example. But overall, I enjoy color much more than b&w in my own work, although I have no such preference when I am looking at the work of others.
Tell me a bit about your thoughts on your own photography and how your vision has evolved.
For one thing, when I started out I was focused more on single images. I am now thinking of my ongoing work more in terms of coherent series or projects. I still feel that every single image in a series should be able to stand on its own as well, but I have also come to realise that a whole can be more than the sum of its parts. By the same token, I am now conceptualising my work more as a “long game.” Once I realise that I have the seeds of a bigger project at hand, I work patiently, over years, accumulating images and editing and re-editing the work.
Another way in which I feel my work has evolved is in realizing that closer is not always better. Sometimes taking a more inclusive, somewhat more detached view of a scene does more justice to the photographed reality, and in fact makes for greater emotional closeness. I can do aggressive close-range street photography, but now that is just one tool in my toolbox, to be used sparingly. Similarly, I have realised that strong form is never enough without equally strong content, without emotional depth.