JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
SHANE LYNAM: I kept it real with a cup of tea and toast.
JC: Can you name 2 emerging artists inspiring you at the moment?
SL: The first two names that come to mind this morning are Raoul Gatepin and Andrew Newson.
JC: What is your current work all about?
SL: For the past few months I have been focusing on a project (provisionally entitled Contours) which will document how the landscape evolves during the progression from the wilderness through the suburbs and into the edge of the city. Although currently focused on Paris where I’m based, I have recently been exploring periphery areas in Brussels and Antwerp too. The work is being developed in the context of a two year MA in Documentary Photography at Newport School of Art. It brings together many of the themes that have been present in my work for the past few years (wastelands, undefined/inbetween spaces and periphery areas) and looks at my own relationship with the area. It builds on a photographic tradition of ‘Man Altered Landscapes’ and the older artistic tradition of the surrealists in Paris.
I am working on several other projects in parallel which will hopefully see the light of day in the coming months.
JC: Any exciting plans for 2011?
SL: 2011 will be dominated by the Contours project. I plan to meet with as many photographers/curators whose work I respect as possible over the next year, and get their critical feedback on the work as it progresses.
More generally I hope to develop the curating element of my practice I have been waiting for the right forum for the last few years, and it seems that there are a few promising projects coming up this year, I am scheduled to write a few exhibition reviews for Doug Richard’s American Suburbs X.
I should also be involved in a few shows before the end of the summer, one here in Paris.
JC: What equipment are you using at the mo?
SL: I sold off a lot of gear recently, however I have a few film cameras left. I encourage anyone who is starting out to spend their cash on photobooks and affordable worthwhile workshops instead of gear. It’s very easy to get caught up in equipment when you start out, i’ve recently seen plenty of strong work taken with camera phones or a few interesting projects done entirely by editing Google Street View images.
JC: What initially drew you to photography?
SL: Other than the fame, money and groupies, it probably went from a pastime to a lifetime when I started to move from ‘the decisive moment’ type photography which I would have been familiar with growing up, to seeing more modern ‘Eggleston’, ‘New Topographics’ influenced work. The internet allowed me to access this type of work and I actively sought out sites such as Flak Photo today.
JC: Any words of wisdom to recent photography graduates?
SL: It’s important to get involved in as many different areas of photography as possible. With exception, these days it’s hard to make a livelihood out of being a talented photographer alone. It seems essential to look at all the other areas that the recent explosion of the industry has thrown up, curating, workshops, lectures, portfolio reviews, editing, book printing, webzines showcasing new interesting work.. As ‘everyone becomes a photographer’, quality work or opinion becomes more important and photography graduates can supply this sort of knowledge. Too often the discussion about whether it is possible to get by in photography is based around a definition which places the photographer’s work at the centre. Helping a photographer you admire to curate a strong edit is closer to the definition of photography for me than shooting a wedding for example.
On graduating or not graduating: I would recommend studying photography if you hope to place your work in some sort of context and benefit from the feedback and exchange of peers in a structured setting. It also drives you to organise and think about your work more seriously and efficiently. At the same time, if you have very strong discipline, good contacts and know how to get the best out of the internet, you might be able to get by without the back up of an academic institution.
At the same time I haven’t graduated yet, so you can take the above with a pinch of salt.
JC: Other thoughts?
SL: The photographers featured on this site have very elaborate breakfasts.