Artist focus:Hannah Saunders, photographer.

Hannah Saunders is an 18 year old aspiring photographer from Peterborough, England. Her snaps caught my eye a while ago, partly because as a dog lover, photographs of her preferred subject matter really appeal to me and partly because she always seems to produce an intriguing bunch of images every time she goes out armed with a camera! Hannah also has a really cool personal style, so check out these images of her photography and a few outfit pictures below, and of course give the interview beneath them a read!

So why did you choose photography? When did you start?
I always liked taking photographs of my friends when I was younger, but never really thought much of it until i was about 15. That's when I got my first 'proper' camera and I began taking the occasional landscape photograph and portrait. I decided to study it at college and then I fell completely in love with it. I'd never been able to draw or paint, I did GCSE textiles & fashion and sucked at sewing, so it was great finally having an artistic medium that I felt I was half good at.

Who or what inspires you? Other photographers or the things around you?
People inspire me; everyday people, eccentric people, people in uniform, people in costumes. I find people so interesting and I love taking photographs of strangers as odd as it sounds, the reasoning behind this is that you don't know anything about them as a person, you just make assumptions, you guess their story, essentially I people watch through my viewfinder. I like photographing the things and people that are overlooked in day to day life, that's what inspires me the most.

What is your favourite subject matter?
I like taking photographs of people, but dogs are definitely my favourite subject matter, it's a habit I've picked up from loving Elliott Erwitt's work so much, it's kind of rubbed off on me. If I go out and take pictures the chances are 99% of them are usually of peoples little canine companions. My friends get pretty annoyed because they end up having all my stuff thrown on them like a packhorse when a dog walks past. Basically I like how they reflect their owners, how you take a photo of someones dog and they feel the need to position them in a certain way or hold them up or have them posing, they seem to think their pooches are an extension of themselves. Dogs also have human qualities when it comes to their expressions and the way they show their emotions, they are all characters and make excellent subjects for photographs. It also might be down to the fact I have 4 cats and my mother won't let me have a chow chow... who knows!

Who is/are your favourite photographer(s) and why?
My favourite photographer is Elliott Erwitt, purely because his talent excels that of any other photographer who has ever wielded a camera. He captures the human psyche through his monochrome candid snapshots in such a beautifully unique way, his composition always screams perfection and his use of irony is hilarious. If you haven't looked at his photographs before you need to now! You're in for a treat!
I have a lot of other favourite photographers so I'll just list a few more!
Philippe Halsman, because his surrealist photographs are just mindblowing, 'Dali Atomicus' is possibly my favourite photograph ever. Halsman was definitley a revolutionary, the best combination printer of 'modern' times.
Miles Aldridge, I'm only just warming to colour images, I've always been more interested in black and white but Aldridge's photographs are on a whole different level to colour. The sickeningly saturated fashion photographs are next level, in your face like a visual acid trip. He also did a series for vogue italia back in 2008 that features loads of cats, what more can you want?
Joel Peter Witkin, be warned his work is rather unsettling, as a child Witkin experienced a car crash where a little girl was decapitated, and as her severed head rolled over to his feet his mind was changed. His work is extremely macabre with subject matter ranging from midgets to dead bodies. It may appear that his work is distasteful and disgusting as I first thought, but he has become one of my favourite photographers because he dares to do something that very few do, he finds beauty in what the majority find hideous. He works on photographs until they are polished to perfection and creates masterpieces out of the people that are shunned in society, and a few limbs here and there...
Reed and Rader are also up there, they're a futuristic photographic duo based in New York who create edgy digital fashion editorials for top designers and brands. They are the future of fashion photography, do not sleep on this!

Personally, what do you enjoy most about photography? Is there anything you don't like?
I enjoy taking photographs on film the most, I'm slowly moving away from digital altogether and towards film as my preferred format. I love how it's material, you can actually hold it in your hands, it's real, digital is merely a bunch of pixels on a screen, it's not a photo it's a recording. Film's the real deal! I hate the whole 'photoshop' culture that's becoming embedded in photography, the idea that you can take any photo and manipulate it to the point where it looks nothing like the original, how you can airbrush a person until they look like a barbie doll or add stars to a sky that was completely bare before. It's just stupid, if you do that you aren't a photographer, you're some idiot who shouldn't be allowed to get your hands on a camera in the first place. Enhance photo's a little, adjust the levels slightly or the brightness, don't change it completely.

What are your ambitions as a photographer?
My biggest ambition is to become a Magnum Photographer, for those who don't know Magnum is a photo agency founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, David Seymour and George Rodger. It would be the biggest achievement i could ever imagine, and I'm not going to stop until it happens!

And some technical stuff: what are your favourite cameras? Do you have a dream camera?
Well I own a Nikon D3100 Digital SLR, a Nikon F80 film SLR, a Yashica T5 point & shoot 35mm camera and a Hasselblad 500c Medium Format film camera. The last two i've recently bought/been given and they are the best things in the world! But my dream camera is a Leica M3, i've never wanted anything so much in my life! It's the most beautiful camera i've ever laid my eyes on and i should hopefully be able to afford it by Christmas! Wish me luck! I aim to own a Mamiya 7 by the time I go to University and I also want a contax t2 and a Leica m9 one day!

You did photography at college, can you explain a little about your course and if/how it helped you as a photographer?
I did AS photography a couple of years back and as I mentioned before it made me completely fall in love with it, I stuck out the year then changed courses to an Extended Diploma, which I'm now entering into my last year of. The course is great, but it's so much harder than A levels! I studied Government & Politics, English Literature & Language, Media Studies and Photography but somehow this course makes that look like primary school stuff! I think it's because we are expected to do a hell of a lot of sketchbook work, and when I say that I mean the majority is written. I love essay writing but can't stand writing about things I don't care about and having to take photos using filters and different lighting techniques and all that technical dribble. I like taking photographs that have a point to them, and writing about that point. But overall yes it's helped me immensely, I adore my tutors and it's given me the chance to learn about photographers I now admire, taught me how to use the darkroom, develop photographs and films and given me a starting point in my quest to become a magnum photographer.

Let's talk about fashion, your personal style is great, how would you describe it?
Haha thanks Hannah! Well I don't really know, I change how I dress on a daily basis but always kind of revert back to each style. I guess I'd describe it as, tacky but tasteful? I like big earrings, even bigger eyebrows, wigs, bobble hats and crazy leggings.

What are you favourite brands/designers?
I'm not that much of a fashionhead, I do however love Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Chanel and so on, but all my money goes on photography so I'd never afford to actually buy any of the clothing! I love Reid Peppards work with taxidermy, it's genius! I'd kill to own a crow talon pendant! I really like The Hundreds, I'm wearing one of their shirts as I type this! Some Stussy and Supreme stuff is cool too. I work at H&M so I spend a lot of my wages on clothing there, and charity shops have loads of little gems in, I find a lot of crazy shirts in them haha!

What inspires your daily outfits? Do you read any fashion blogs?
I just kind of go with the flow, making my mum look me up and down and tell me i look stupid is always a sign that I look pretty cool, I joke! But yeah, I don't really read fashion blogs as such but I lurk Lookbooks and Polyvore to get ideas for outfits sometimes, I'm pretty hooked on Polyvore at the moment, that site is so addictive! Your fashion blog rules and Emily Reid has a great fashion blog too that I check out when i get the chance -photo blog - flickr -polyvore account - online zine

Labels: , , ,