“The weird thing” says Liam Arthur, “is that I didn’t take many pictures when I was in the circus, it all seemed so normal then.” Liam Arthur has made up for it since, and his imagery retains the wonder of the circus fairground
Like the sunlit girl examining her catch, photographer Liam Arthur likes to seize the moment. His favourite photo he says is the most recent one he’s taken. Shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards in 2010 and 2011, his clients include the BBC, Channel 4, The Sunday Times, MSN and Coca Cola.
It’s no surprise he spent time in the circus, his imagery displays a sense of visual theatre, whether that’s the content
or the colour palette,
or just an unexpected contrast, where his photographs introduce something odd into familiar surroundings.
His celebration of middle-age carries a genuine, uncontrived warmth, a sense of people comfortable in their own skin.
While he may not have any attachment to objects, as a photographer he has an attachment to moments and the skill to viusalise that.
A shot of a single object that expresses a powerful memory/event
I try not to hold an attachment to objects. I find people/events more valuable. I hold on to the memories instead – I find these harder to lose.
Three books that have inspired you?
The three books that have inspired me most are (in order of preference) Endurance, the story of Ernest Shackleton’s failed expedition to the south pole. The sheer will and ingenuity of the men to survive is awe inspiring.
Any of the Iain M Banks Culture series. His imagination to create entire cultures I am very envious of.
And I would have to add in American Tabloid by James Ellroy, I identify with his darker view of the world.
Favourite photo you have taken?
My favorite photo is normally the most recent. I think most photographers are fairly self critical, and the longer we have to look at our images, the more we criticize them. It is not necessarily a bad thing as it drives us forward to improve and make new work.
My favorite artist is Turner for the use of colour and light. But it was Don McCullin that inspired me to get into photography. The presence of his images are breathtaking, and it was impressive how he got the same drama into his landscapes as he did his war images. I miss the craft of B&W Film image making. Our medium has lost something with the advent of digital image capture.
How much is post-production part of your image-making?
Slightly awkward question after slagging off digital, it is probably obvious that in some of my images I use a fair amount. I guess you use what you have, and I love being able to illustrate a concept. I think the key is to shoot for it, rather than use it as a tool to improve a dull image. I do all of my post-production myself as I like to be autonomous. If I complete the project from conception to finish I feel that it is mine.
What was your route to becoming a professional photographer?
Dull Really: College, Uni, Assisting.
Is it fair to say here’s a slice of your work that has a sense of the grotesque and dark humour? For example the skin peeling series, and Outside the Box which uses a familiar cliché to generate a fantastical and strange story about the archetypal business person?
Yeah. I find dark emotion stronger than positive ones, I like pictures to contain or generate a feeling or emotion so I lean towards the negative emotions sometimes as they are easier to work with. I am a fairly cynical person anyway, but I do have a sense of humour. I guess the pictures are an extension of yourself at times… you have me worried now.
You seem to have a feel for people living unconventional lives such as Cirque Elemental?
I think most people are interested in the unconventional. It is also an easy way to make interesting pictures. This project was based on a circus group that I used to be in. The weird thing is that I didn’t take many pictures when I was in the circus, it all seemed so normal then. I missed a trick there but learnt from that. Things that seem normal to you are always interesting to someone.
Timmo is a great piece of visual storytelling. How do you construct your edit? What are the essential elements of good visual narrative?
I hate editing. You can only use what you think tells the story for you, whilst remaining visually interesting. Ten people would probably choose ten different sets of images. I think a lot of what a photographer is, is made in the edit.
The personal section on your blog has some dramatic and experimental image-making. Have you any plans to develop any of this work further?
90% of the time we are making images for a reason. Experimenting or making pictures for yourself is vital to break up the routine we get ourselves in of reproducing the same images.
For Liam’s own site click here
For his work for Image Source, click here