Carl Bigmore: Photographer Spotlight #11
Photographer: Carl Bigmore
In the eleventh instalment of our Photographer series, we talk to UK Photographer Carl Bigmore
1. How did you start in Photography and decide it was the career for you?
I was interested in photography from a relatively young age. My grandfather was a keen amateur photographer and worked in imaging for Kodak. I bought a Canon AE-1 when I was about 18 and just started from there. At first it was just pictures of what was going on around me with friends and family and then it opened up into broader storytelling. My interest grew over the years as I worked in a photographic and film archive for much of my twenties. During that time I also shot personal work. I then made the transition from full time employment to being a freelance photographer in 2013 when I did a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication.
2. What kind of photographer would you describe yourself as?
I have a background in documentary but I don’t consider myself to be a photojournalist. I like to be out and about making pictures but I take a slower approach, usually making portraits and landscapes. Although increasingly that’s changing, and my images of people are becoming a bit more spontaneous whilst retaining an air of quietness. The key for me is taking pictures that have an emotional resonance. It’s not something that’s easily described. But that’s why I take pictures; to articulate those experiences and feelings that seem limited by words.
3. What cameras and equipment do you usually use?
For my personal work I use a Rolleiflex and Hasselblad medium format. Both are 6×6. For commissions I tend to use a Canon 5D with 50mm and 35mm lenses. I like to keep my set up simple.
4. Which subject is your favourite to shoot?
It’s difficult to identify a particular subject as a favourite because it’s all about the context of the story I’m making at the time. A lot of my work is based around our relationship with the natural world.
Having said that, I like making portraits. These are usually environmental rather than in a controlled studio environment. Again, it’s about being out in the world and meeting people. Often I’ll spend a lot of time with people prior to even taking out my camera.
Other than people I love photographing landscapes. But not in a traditional landscape mode. I like to have a spontaneous approach where I’m trying to capture the atmosphere of a place. Sometimes it’s like there’s an energy in the air that I’m trying grasp at by taking a picture.
5. Which photographers have inspired you most?
An obvious one to mention, but Alec Soth. I also love the work of Lara Shipley and Ron Jude. A more recent discovery was Amani Willett, his book ‘The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer’ was my favourite photobook of 2017.
6. Is there a shoot or personal project you’ve been working on recently?
I completed a collaboration in 2017 that will probably be seen sometime this year. That was shot along the European Green Belt. Other than that it’s been a year of developing new ideas and working towards publishing a book. Something I also hope to do in 2018.
7. Has your shoot or project been Studio based or out on location?
Always out on location.
8. Can you tell us some of the locations you have shot across the world, what was your favourite and why?
I’ve shot a lot on the west coast of the US. I love the states of Oregon and Washington. It’s so wild there with mountains, forests and the dry desert-like landscapes on the eastern side. I spent a month camping and shooting a project there in 2014 and it’s probably still one of my best memories from a project. But it’s not just about the landscape; the people I met made the trip.
I also enjoy shooting in Scandinavian countries. I did that last year and would like to do more there in the future.
9. What’s been your most memorable moment on a shoot or during your career?
There’s been quite a few, if I think back. I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint one moment. There are people I’ve met who I still keep in touch with and those friendships, although distant, are really important to me.
One funny moment happened when I was travelling in a remote part of Northern California near the redwoods in Humboldt County. This is an area where there is a lot of marijuana growing going on. I was camping over and needed some firewood so I drove to the nearest little town (really it was no more than a bar, a few houses and some trailers). I went into the bar to ask for firewood and it was like stepping into a scene from Deliverance. Lots of tattoos, sleeveless shirts and trucker caps. I vividly remember two barcaloungers containing two very drunken locals, fast asleep. I asked for firewood and was kindly laughed away. As I walked out the bar a large group of locals howled at me. That night I slept in a tent in a woods that resembled the Blair Witch Project, waking regularly to the sound of woodland wildlife creeping around my tent.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work or process?
No, I think I’ve gone on for long enough.