“I love catching people off guard, particularly those who hate to be photographed or claim to be un-photogenic. I don’t believe there is such a thing.” – Eliza Bell
Our paths wouldn’t have crossed with Eliza’s if not for the Brunswick Street Gallery Open Call Photography Prize Show Exhibition, Click 2016!. Being an open call exhibition meant that there would be a myriad of photographers who would submit their work for the competition. And in the array of work submitted, we are delighted that Eliza’s work was awarded the LensHire prize by the panel of judges.
Both her winning pieces of artwork hang proudly in our LensHire store and we couldn’t wait to feature her in this month’s Artist Feature as well.
Taken in Berlin (2013) at one of the stalls at a trash and treasure market.
Hey Eliza, tell us about how you got started in photography?
I got started in photography through my art studies in high school. I loved the arts so much I wanted to try everything, so I ended up transferring schools to be in an environment that fostered that love. Four out of five of my VCE classes were arts based (each one utilizing photography). After that I decided that I wanted to keep going so I studied Fine Art at University. This led to a whole new world, I worked at galleries, put on shows and have continued to showcase my work ever since.
What was it about photography that attracted you to continue with the craft?
I think it was all to do with framing, the way I could determine the mood, the perspective. I could create little stories with my work. I always wanted to be a film-maker but could never quite get the craft down. However framing was something I definitely got.
“This was taken by chance in Kyoto Japan in 2014. It shows a girl taking a portrait of her friend inside a cement tunnel. I enjoy seeing people style their shots.”
Is there a particular subject, landscape or topic that you enjoy photographing?
Portraiture hands-down is my favourite thing to photograph, especially if it is not stylized. I love catching people off guard, particularly those who hate to be photographed or claim to be un-photogenic. I don’t believe there is such a thing.
“One of my graduate show self portraits, Edward Scissorhands. I did all aspects of the shoot, from the lighting to the hair and makeup. This movie was always one of my favourites.”
What have been some challenges you have faced in your creative journey so far?
Probably self doubt more than anything. As an artist you are always trying to find your place in the world and are constantly grappling with your future pathways. I think that choosing to pursue a career as an artist is one of the bravest things you can do. We are all too often told its not feasible, or there are people out there ten times better than you. It can be hard to have the endurance to continue doing what you’re doing. But then you have a moment where you take the perfect shot and it means something. You then remember why you love it.
Is there a particular subject, moment or place that is on your bucket list to photograph?
I’ve always wanted to photograph in Iceland in the summer. I once saw a series where a photographer took landscapes at 4am and it was as bright as day. I also have the urge to go to North Korea, but definitely will be sticking to the sanctioned areas for sure.
Where, what or whom do you draw your inspiration from?
It really depends on what I choose to photograph, if it is a stylized portrait I tend to look towards characters from film and TV as I have a real fascination with characterization and the gaze. Cindy Sherman’s outlook on portraiture has been something I have emulated when taking self-portraits. But ultimately I draw inspiration from filmmakers and the way certain scenes and soundtracks make me feel. I try to always consider what emotion I want to convey to my audience.
Tell us more about the images you submitted to the Click 2016 exhibition and how those images came about.
Both my images came from travel. The shot of the handstand in the field was taken while on an impressionism study tour in Auvers-sur-Oise, France in 2013. This is a beautiful place as it was where Vincent Van Gogh painted before he passed away. As a fan of his work, and that of film angles, I chose to ironically work with the Dutch angle. This was a soft play on his mindset during his time in Auvers-sur-Oise and the playfulness of the subject.
The second shot was taken en route to Tokyo on a Shinkansen train. What I love most about this shot was its unintentional nature. I never saw the man when going 320km/h nor did I realise he too was also taking a photo of the train. Photos like these taken in the moment is why I love to photograph. Especially when I’m traveling as it keeps what I saw fresh in my mind and reminds me of things I may of missed. It’s like my own personal highlight reel or a more well crafted photo album.
Were there any ‘crazy’ things you have done to achieve a shot?
I think all photographers will ignore a sign or two once in their life to get the shot. It’s more of a risk for most of us to obey those minor rules, than to be left wishing we’d have the guts later on.
“This was taken in Myoko Kogen in Japan, the first time I’d ever properly seen snow.”
What advice/experiences would you share with fellow photographers who feel like they are stuck in a creative rut?
Don’t try so hard to take the perfect shot, just keep the camera with you and trust in your instincts. If it’s meant to happen it will and if not its not gone forever, we all go through stages where we feel uninspired.
“This shot was taken in Nara, Japan in 2014 amongst the stone lanterns.. Deer roam free in this part of town, considered sacred up until WWII. Today they’re seen as a national treasure and are a great sight to behold.”
What do you hope your photography/images can help to convey?
As cliché as it might be I hope my photography conveys something similar to Herni Cartier-Bresson’s ‘The decisive moment’. Each piece I take is meant to have the ability to continue on after that frame. My job is only there to set you up for the next scene, it’s the viewer’s job to interpret it in whatever direction it may take.
All Image Credit: Eliza Bell // 2016