Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Working with Monsters

I am currently working with a pool of amazing Spanish and South American assistants, all girls, all recent graduates or studying MA's. I can't underestimate the value of the huge amount of time we spend in the car together to discuss photography. Themes usually revolve around the fundamentals of what we are doing and why we are doing it but equally important is silence, a lot of silence; I have found that girls are more comfortable with this than boys. My perception is that boys, particularly heterosexual boys, demand more attention than girls. (although there are some notable and well known exceptions).

I worked with one boy who was so shy, I was concerned he might be autistic, this combined with his terrible grasp of English, made him amazingly useful with the most sensitive subjects. He had very little skills or technical knowledge but if there was a self harmer or vulnerable teenager, I would always use him and I created many important images with him. One of the greatest talents an assistant can have is to render themselves virtually invisible so that the subject forgets them or equally they can be essential in creating an atmosphere that brings out an interesting response in the subject.

There can be a lack of anything tangible to do on my shoots, as I can seem incredibly self-reliant and I imagine it must feel quite unsatisfying to work with me if you do not accept the essential role that your personality plays in how I build a relationship with a subject and the space. The assistant is a vital component just by being themselves.

The hardest thing for these sensitive and brilliant people is to cope with the shifts in mood and energy as I struggle to respond to new environments, I project a lot of frustration that must be quite wounding (see images of Maria de la O Garrido) but this is discussed in early interviews with them and I continually remind them of this possibility. I often can snap at an assistant during a shoot purely to elicit a spontaneous response in a subject, who might have started to become comfortable in my presence. The priority is entirely the capture of a moment and nothing must get in the way.

Maria is a student at Central St Martin's Fine Art MA, she played alone in her room as a child and now she works best alone in her studio playing with her new toys, her mother's name is Solitude.

Image_3919 © Richard Ansett 2015
Image_3918 © Richard Ansett 2015
Image_3921 © Richard Ansett 2015

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