Brian Ferry is American and an expat in London like me. Every expat has a different experience and I thought it would be interesting to have another perspective on living in L-town.
Brian shoots entirely in film. From his pictures and people like Jonathan Canlas, Krjsten Madsen, Jac, etc...I've really fallen in love with film. I think there's such an organic nature to them and a beauty that is so different to digital.
If I could describe Brian's pictures in two words: Simplicity and Light. I hear people complain that they need a special event to take pictures of...Brian captures the beauty of simplicity. The simplicity of everyday, what some think of as 'ordinary...he creates something stunning. Plus everything he does, he's very aware of natural light. The results to me are just awe inspiring.
Without further ado, here's the interview:
1- So what brought you to the UK? How long have you been here?
I moved to London in November of 2009. I am a lawyer by day, and my firm asked me to transfer to the London office for 2 years.
2- What was your biggest cultural shock (if any) when you moved to London?
I think London is similar enough to NYC (where I lived before moving here) so there wasn't a huge cultural shock for me. Although, it took me some time to get used to the differences in customer service here - it's very different from the US. For example, when I tried to set up internet in my new flat and they told me they'd connect it in 3 weeks' time. That would be inexcusable in NYC (where you can have working internet at home in 24 hours if you would like). I've had to be much more patient... people are happier to wait in line in the UK. New Yorkers do not wait in line.
3- What's been the best/worst thing about living abroad?
The best thing about living abroad is being forced out of your comfort zone, so you have to try new things all the time. You really have no choice - and it's very refreshing, because it helps you to see things differently, to develop new tastes and opinions and it also makes you think very clearly about who you are, what you want, what sort of life you would like to lead. I felt like I was starting here with a clean slate - and that was really nice.
The worst thing about living abroad is missing people at home. I have constantly struggled with this, and have not been able to replace that level of comfort that I have back in NY surrounded by friends and family.
4- How have you found British comedy? A lot of expats (myself included) find it to be quite an adjustment at first and either love it or hate it.
Is it weird to say that I've never really thought about British comedy? Sometimes when I'm talking to friends, especially Brits, they will mention a comedian but I usually have no idea what they are talking about. I don't really watch TV so I probably miss out on a lot of that. I think people here have a great sense of humor though, and it makes me laugh - it's much more deadpan than in the US.
5- Do you think traveling and living abroad has changed your photography? if so--how
Absolutely. Traveling and living abroad changed my photography because I am constantly faced with new experiences, sights, places, etc. It has been hugely inspirational to me, since I take a lot of cues from the things surrounding me - friends, food, the light, buildings, everyday life. When all of that changes, your photography changes as well.
6- What's in your camera bag? I know that you do very little post-processing in your pics (which I find a breath of fresh air)....do you think some photographers are addicted to Photoshop?
I use film cameras - a Pentax K1000, an Olympus OM-1, a vintage Lomo LCA, and a Hasselblad 500c/m.
I don't know if people are addicted to Photoshop or not, but you can usually tell right away when someone has snapped a digital photo and then messed around with it in Photoshop - they can be beautiful images objectively, but they don't appeal to me very much. They lack a certain soul that I like to capture, and most photography that really inspires me has a certain depth of feeling to it. Film photography captures that really well. That is not to say that digital photographs can't be inspiring to me - and I have many digital photographs that are favorites, but they usually have a natural, organic feel to them.
7- Who inspires you?
People who live life in a unique and beautiful way. People, products and places that are considered, mindful, honest, and have strong personalities.
Specifically, I am always inspired by a few photographers: Jon Levitt, Molly Wizenberg, Rob Kulisek, Jennilee Marigomen, Nicholas Haggard. There are so many more, too.
8- You use film to shoot. Do you think film photography has forced you to slow down and think more about your pictures? Do you think the convenience of 'digital' can sometimes get in the way of the artistic process?
Film photography has forced me to consider my photographs more carefully. Even now, when I pick up a digital camera, the convenience means that I just snap, snap, snap away. With film, I think about each shot before I release the shutter and as a result, I think (hope) the images have a more thoughtful quality to them. I don't think digital gets in the way of the creative process - it just doesn't suit my own creative process.
9- The photos on your blog brilliantly capture the beauty of the everyday. How did you develop an eye for this or is it just a natural reflection of how you see life?
It's definitely a natural reflection of how I see life. Of course, the beauty of the everyday is only one part of that life - and on my blog, I choose to show only that part of my everyday life. There is a lot more that is not shown, of course. But I shoot most of my photos naturally - meaning that if I see something that looks nice to me, then I pick up my camera and try to capture that - some nice light, or the color of a vegetable on my cutting board, or even an emotion or feeling that results from a particular tableau in front of me. I don't "set up" or stage my everyday photos (for the most part).
10- So what's next for you?
I'll be moving back to the US in November and so I'm planning to travel in Europe as much as I can before then. I also have some photography projects in the pipeline, and have been keeping quite busy on that front. It's an exciting time for me!
Thank you Brian.
All pictures are the property of Brian Ferry and have been used with permission. Be sure to check out his blog the Blue Hour.