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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Informing Contexts – Intent

The intent of my current work is to explore the act of performance in front of a camera.  Not everyone likes having their picture taken, including me and this interests me.  I enjoy photographing people on their terms as well as mine.  Often they will choose what they wear or will be collaborative in the process of styling the shoot.

I control the lighting, the props and the shooting position.  The subject controls how they act in front of the camera.  Some know how to pose, some choose to take on a part and act their way through a session.  The resulting photographs tend to reveal something about the subject that they did not expect.  There is often a mismatch between how someone thinks they look in front of a camera and how they actually do.  The camera not only objectifies the subject but makes them worthy of being looked at, even when they subject feels they are not photogenic.

“I’m not trying to make it all about their fantasy, although it might begin there. I’ve noticed that I tend to feminise a lot of men – they’re usually reclining or photographed from above – although I don’t know how conscious that is.”

– Katy Grannan (Denes, 2005)

Although my process is collaborative in the main, there is always an underlying narrative that I have planned for a shot.  Like Katy Grannan, my work is about creating a fantasy – both mine and the subject’s.

My strategies for achieving this are humour, lots of coffee, cakes and often extreme props or styling.  I like things that do not go together (or haven’t done before anyway).  Both myself and the subject enjoy the success of the shoots.  It is really great to see someone who thought they weren’t photogenic genuinely smile at a photograph of themselves.  Maybe that is my intent.


Denes, M. (2005). Interview: Melissa Denes meets photographer Katy Grannan. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 02 April 2017].

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