With images that are raw and incredibly emotive in nature, today’s wonderful work is presented by film photographer Greg Bricknell of Melbourne, Australia. Choosing to drape his muses in harsh shadows and moments of intense light, Greg’s collection is bold and beautiful in style. But, take a step back and his works reveal a disarming sensitivity that is both engaging as it is so preciously rare.
Playing out as a form of personal documentation and a somewhat painful reminder of his personal struggles as a creative outsider, you can’t help but empathize with his message and admire the honesty reflected by his work and words.
Greg was recently gracious enough to share some of his time and thoughts with us, candidly sharing his views on photography and some deeply personal details about this particular set of shots. “This work doesn’t scream an obvious statement,” he reminds viewers casting their eyes on the set. “Instead, it quietly asks questions and allows you to draw your own conclusions.”
Please tell us a little about yourself; where are you from and what do you do?
I’m an Australian photographer, currently based in Melbourne. I recently returned to Australia after living in Canada for three years. Telling people where I’m from is an interesting proposition at the moment. Canada is home for me, but I’m unable to be there due to some visa issues. So, I’m living in Melbourne, where I was born, but feel completely like a fish out of water.
I’m a reformed freelance photographer at this point in time. Shooting weddings and events was just sucking the life out of me, so a few years ago I made the decision to stop doing that and focus on exploring some work that was more personally fulfilling. Since early 2013, I’ve been shooting purely personal work and exploring some themes that have made their presence felt within the pictures.
Is there a story behind the images you shared with us? Would you say there is an inherent message?
All of this work was made in Vancouver, BC. I started shooting it shortly after I moved there and it began as a creative exercise to see if I could make work using only what I had available to me at the time, which wasn’t much: a camera, a model, available light, and wherever I happened to be living at the time. But the work quite quickly turned into a vehicle for some very intense self-exploration.
The three years that I spent in Canada were among the most difficult I have ever experienced. Not only was I dealing with the inevitable feelings of homesickness and displacement, but I was also confronted with unemployment, severe depression and anxiety, the breakdown of my marriage and, eventually, visa complications that forced me out of the country. Photography became a lifeline, an obsession, a crushing burden and, ultimately, the medium through which I processed the world around me.
Is there a title to this collection of shots?
This collection of images doesn’t actually have a title yet. My recent move away from Canada has signaled an end to this chapter of work and I’m still getting my head around what it is that these images say when you put them all together. When I started making this work I didn’t realize that it would turn into a unified collection. It began as more of a creative exercise. I’m working towards exhibiting some of this work later in the year, so I’ll have to come up with a title at some point.
What cameras and films do you like to use for your shots? Could you share some thoughts as to why you use such combinations?
I make all of my work with a combination of the following cameras: Pentax 67, Rolleiflex 2.8f, Mamiya 645 Pro, Leica M6, Canon A1, Polaroid 11A (modified to use pack film). I’ll generally shoot whatever film I can get my hands on, but my absolute favorites are Kodak Tri-X for black and white and Portra for color. I also use Fuji 100C and 3000B for my Polaroid, but I’ve actually been less inclined to use that camera since the 3000B was discontinued.
So much attention is placed on the equipment a photographer uses and, after many years of constantly chasing gear, I’ve realized that it barely matters. If you can work out what you’re trying to say with your images, or which questions you’re trying to ask, the camera choice almost becomes irrelevant. I’ve selected the cameras I work with because they’re stupidly simple to operate and they each have a different character that they bring to the final image that I really like.
Why is this photo series special to you?
This body of work is really important to me because it’s the first time I’ve even begun to zero in on a way of working that makes sense to me, that feels honest. A lot of contemporary photography seems far too cerebral to me; not that I dislike looking at it, but I’m a very emotional person and I really struggle to connect with that style of work. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I can create art in a highly emotional and personal way and that this is an equally valid artistic statement.
As I was making these pictures I pushed myself to be more open, more vulnerable, and share more of myself each time. The more I shared, the more of myself I saw in the end result. But, these are also very collaborative works. Each of the models I worked with threw themselves into the process and revealed a lot of themselves. I had so many amazing conversations and forged some really strong connections.
Getting back to the original question, these images are important to me because they encapsulate a time when I was finding myself, both personally and artistically, and also questioning everything that was happening as my life appeared to be coming apart at the seams. I look at these pictures and I see all of the big life questions. And that’s really special to me, that this work doesn’t scream an obvious statement. Instead, it quietly asks questions and allows you to draw your own conclusions.
To see more of Greg’s amazing work, please visit his links below: