About a week or so ago I was interviewed by the owner of Give A Shit About Fashion – a blog that focuses on upcoming artists, photographers and other individuals who have an interest within the fashion world. My questions focused more closely on my overall personal style, outside of my editorial work, so I really enjoyed the chance to talk about my aims and reasonings behind the photographic process. You can read the original interview here, or simply read the questions and my answers to them below.
Interview With Give a Shit About Fashion
Questions for Elizabeth Burns, Photographer
1. When did you start taking photographs?
I guess it was probably when I did a brief class in high school that taught the basics of analogue photography. I really enjoyed it and definitely took an instant liking to the whole process. But I didn’t really take photography seriously until I took up a tertiary course in Photo Imaging in early 2013, as a desire to try something different. Pretty quickly my interest progressed as I realized I could use photography as a way of learning about other people and sharing those findings publicly to insight thought on the matter being conveyed.
2. How do you want people to feel when looking at your work?
I mostly try to inspire thought or intrigue about a particular topic or the subject within the image. Sometimes I photograph purely for the appreciation of something that I see as beautiful, but it varies depending on the subject matter.
I just try to leave a lasting impression, whether bad or good or just a change of thought on a particular issue. If I inspire people to think about something – anything – then I’d say that was my primary goal.
3. Do you have a favourite shoot?
My personal art projects are something I have a strong affection for. I feel they most closely reflect the way I think and the way I want to express myself through imagery.
There’s a shot I took recently of a boy named Andy Leaf that I unofficially titled “When Alone”. He’s lying in a bathtub and you can see scars across his chest from a surgery he’d previously had done. I feel proud of that photograph because I think it creates an interesting narrative for the viewer to interpret on a subject where I find importance.
I particularly like that the image is authentic. It isn’t a model posing for a shot, it’s a person baring a part of their private life within their own home. I just feel immensely appreciative that people will allow me to document these areas of their lives – that people will trust me to be respectful of the situation.
But I’ve recently been doing a lot of personal work relating to gender identity, sexuality, and social fluidity that have yet to be released, so it mostly just feels rewarding to have a chance to create imagery in areas that I’m currently interested by.
4. How do you get the subject in front of the camera into the final image just the way you want?
In regards to the physical capturing of the image, I do my best to communicate clearly to everyone I’m working with so that people know what to expect from the project. I think an image is mostly affected by the collective mood on the day, so I do my best to be accommodating and make others feel comfortable around me.
I’ve also learnt that direction of a subject is more efficient when you give a situational example so as to give context to the idea you’re trying to create. I feel that communication really is the key.
And in regards to the creation of a concept, I just make sure to plan out exactly what my aims and intentions are in a photo treatment and to map out how I will achieve these goals. Ultimately I think it’s just planning and preparation. I perform better when I know exactly what I want to achieve and am familiar with the environment I’ll be working in.
5. Describe your personal style.
I feel I’m very drawn to ambiguity. I like photographing people who are androgynous or have a striking aesthetic that isn’t particularly normative. I’m attracted to obscurity and “otherness”. I feel a lot of my imagery has a sort of melancholy or wistful undertone to it as a result of those attractions. I like capturing my subjects in a pensive moment and I like to create a feel of some sort of intimacy or closeness within their eyes.
I’m always wondering and questioning, so I think I almost subconsciously was drawn to creating photography that reflected that. I’m not entirely sure, but it was definitely a natural inclination first and foremost.
6. What inspires you to create the imagery that you do? Do other artists inspire you?
Many things inspire me, from social issues, to other works of art, to evolving fashion trends, to changing of personal politics. But mostly, I’m consistently inspired by the people that surround me. I’m inspired by the way that other people work and think and am constantly intrigued by trying to understand differing perspectives.
Mostly my personal work will vary depending on what’s going on in my life, whether more clearly evident or not, but I feel it’s mostly a reflection of what my experiences are.
In regards to other specific artists who inspire me, I’ve especially been into the work of photographer Nhu Xuan Hua of late. Her imagery is just unbelievable and encapsulates an aesthetic I wish I could embody. I think if anyone’s work inspires me to create something, they’ve achieved what I would hope to achieve within my own work.