Interview: Kate Elliott (Photographer's Gallery)

d300 - Interview: Kate Elliott (Photographer's Gallery)

Monday 18 June 2012, Photographers Gallery, London
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Kate at the Photographer’s Gallery
1: What initially interested you in photography?
Kate: I have been interested in photography since childhood, my father worked in the Arts and so I have always been involved in artistic things.
My professional development included a one year course at LCC (London College of Communication) and I gained a certificate in PPP which focused on the practical side of photography; studio lighting/flash/etc. – it provided beneficial as this is where I began to build up my portfolio.
I was lucky to go straight into work afterwards specialising in architectural photography. Through this I photographed for events and charities and continually built up my portfolio and client base alongside doing some editorial work for newspapers.
Later I took a 2 year part time Masters Degree in Photography at the LCC. It was at this time I began working in a more gallery context environment.
Over the last 3 years I have focused on people based photography as well as architectural – I think it’s a nice balance and contrast. Over 20months I took photographs of this building (Photographers Gallery) and added those to my portfolio. I have worked here in a number of different capacities and am now their main in house photographer.
2: Your first photo shoot – was it your most important? If not then what was?
Kate: The first one wasn’t my most important. My most memorable one is a current project called The World in London. It is to be exhibited at for the Olympics and will be shown at Victoria Park. I am very passionate about it and it will be shown at both Victoria Park and at this website: www.theworldinlondon.org.uk/
(Note: The world in London website will not be live until late July)
3: Which is best; good knowledge or good equipment?
Kate: Definitely knowledge and vision. At times equipment is integral to the work but there is always the competition and drive between people to have the best, up to date equipment and I don’t believe in that. Your vision and knowledge is what show in an image. Passion and focus; do what you want. I agree with you that equipment can sometimes lead to missing the moment and it always depends on the subject of the shot.
4: Which photographers influence you?
Kate: A lot! It varies and depends on what projects I am doing. At the moment the most important photographers are Dianne Arbus and Nan Goldin.  They focus on people and the community and I respect their dedication. Another influential photographer is Paul Graham. I also like photography books and can sit looking through pictures.
5: Your project; ‘Time Stands Still’ uses a lot of family photographs. Do you think the notion of family has changed?
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Kate’s web page featuring her “Time stands still when I think of you” project.
Kate: It is an interesting subject and yes I do think it has changed. The project was a gift and as I am not connected to the photographs it is great to have an insight into a world I don’t belong to. The image quality is different to modern day digital. Nowadays it seems we need a photograph to remember everything – however the photographs I used from the turn of the century to 1950’s are so much better than now.
6: Do you prefer film or digital – this subject can be argued a lot!
Kate: All my commercial work is digital and I use film for personal work. For specific projects I use medium format, 35mm. I do also use digital for own use but mostly film.
7: You used video in your project KEEM. The one thing about photographs is that even though they don’t speak it does not mean they don’t catch attention – a  photograph is clearly a piece of silent communication . A Video has added sound – do you think a video compliments video compliments photography work?
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Part of Kate’s ‘KEEM’ blog showing the use of Super 8mm camera and film.
Kate: yes I do. I use video sometime when photographs don’t last long enough. Through video I use single shot and not mush editing which makes it rougher and it is a great tool to use to reflect back on an element in time. Photographs stand alone but a video is a longer narrative.
8: Do you prefer Photographs or Video?
Kate: I would describe myself as a photographer first and foremost. I use film sometimes but that has been only recently – in digital. On KEEM I used 8mm film. Don’t know which I prefer – they do different things.
9: Modern Bohemian project – it’s a homage to famous artistes and poets – a sort of romance through the arts – can you tell me more about it?
imageKate’s web page showing two of her ‘Modern Bohemian Project’ images
Kate: Oh gosh how do I tell this project in a nutshell?! I am interested in identity and how it can change – it is not a fixed construct. The work explores identity especially gender and self hood. More of it is done in painting which I studied for one year.
I researched artists such as Gustave Courbet – his idea of the modern bohemian was to do portraits of himself. I have used people within the community to reflect on what he was talking about. Identity is fluid – I have tried to find a relationship between photography and painting in order to achieve these portrait looks, and to reference it in a contemporary way.
10: You spent 20 months documenting the changes at the Photographers gallery. Has it finished? What are you doing now?
Kate: Yes it has finished. Currently I am integrating this project with the marketing team so they can use the documentary in their marketing strategies. I am also taking installation shots, events and photographing how well people are using the space since it has been refurbished. The Gallery can then use all this information on their website.
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A recent edition of the London Evening Standard showing one of Kate’s photographs featuring the Ramilles Street gallery.
Kate’s website can be seen at: http://kateelliott.co.uk/

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