Photographer Niamh Murray about (analog) photography.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be a photographer?
I remember my GCSE Art teacher letting me borrow her Canon SLR film camera. I had never looked into the viewfinder of an SLR before and it was like looking into your own framed movie, a tv set, a window into another version of my reality. I fell instantly in love. My aunt then gave me her gran-dads old SLR, a Minolta. They didn’t offer Photography in my school in Northern Ireland, so I decided to take an A ‘Level in Photography at an adult education centre which was quite a drive from my home and sat it in one year. I have never looked back.
Do you professionally work as a photographer?
I don’t work full time as a photographer but I now teach A’ Level Photography, so I guess I am working within the realm of photography. To date I have had one paid job for my photography editorial work. I got published in Capricho, one of Brasil’s largest teen music influenced magazines. This experience gave me a thirst for photographing all aspects of band and festival life.
Why do you like to take analog pictures? Do you shoot digital as well?
I love the interaction and the artistry. I especially love the adventure and the element of risk. Conceptually, a lot of my work is about journeying, through dreams, the subconscious, on the road or metaphorically looking over a threshold. Film photography suits the way I work since it physically represents light passing over a threshold. It opens up possibilities which feel honest and real. It challenges me to think about what I’m doing in a much more experimental and fun way. Yes, I also shoot digital but my collection of film cameras is always expanding.
Do you have a favorite subject to photograph? If so, why?
I was afraid to photograph people for a long time since I am quite a shy person. So the camera for me is a way of engaging with subjects and people I would usually feel distanced from. For me, it’s about being caught up in the energy of the moment. I feel the interaction between music and photography is a great subject to explore and experiment with for it’s collaborative possibilities. Once again, it’s about looking at someone or something in space and interacting with them across the threshold of that moment in time.
What’s your favorite analog camera?
At the minute, my brand new Contax G2.
Do you have a favorite revolog film?
I shot the beginning of ‘Moulventures’ on Plexus. I want to experiment more with this film as I realise it often works better without flash in certain circumstances. I have some ideas for using the snovlox when I go on tour next.
Any advice for other photographers?
Photography will always be there for you when all else fails. Don’t feel bad about being out of the dark room for a month, two months, a year, five years. Those skills will never leave you. And if you are apprehensive to get into film photography, don’t be. Get yourself a cheap slr film camera, buy a Revolog film, take it to your nearest good film developers (I actually use my local snappy snaps as I have a good relationship with the owner and he looks after my films so I trust him…if you don’t know them from Adam, you might want to go somewhere a little more Artesian). And if you’re feeling really adventurous, book yourself onto a b/w darkroom course and dive in.
Do you have any future projects you’d like to talk about?
Niamh Murray is a London-based photographer and designer. She is also an art & photography teacher working in Barking & Dagenham. Niamh navigates the front lines in the fight for creative arts. Having recently been awarded a teaching sabbatical grant by the Goldsmiths’ Company, City of London, she will be crossing Canada with Brighton based band ‘Moulettes’ during the summer leg of their 2016 world tour. The experiences of which will be channelled into inspiring the next generation of young artists to pursue a career in creative fields such as the photographic arts. She aims to explore how photography & music can probe socio-political issues and attempts to enact socio-political change in outreach activities.
Recently, Murray was commissioned to design the album art for Moulettes upcoming LP ‘Preternatural’, which will be released in May 2016. In her photographic collaborations, she uses experimental film and printing techniques, such as revolog plexus 35 mm film to create the illusion of being underwater. This blue webbing-like effect embodies the meanings and messages behind the records concept. Preternaturalis an album that addresses, amongst other things, the loss of endangered species such as the coral reef, amorous japanese pufferfish and octopus highly skilled in the art of camouflage. Conceptually, Moulettes inhabit a bioluminescent world, which is expressed through their extraordinary stage lighting, clothing and genre-defying sound.
On their return, both artist and band will collaborate further with career mentoring, song writing, screen-printing and performance workshops for students in the Barking area culminating in exhibitions in both Barking & Brighton. ‘Moulventures’ will be an online project, which can be followed here; Follow Niamh on her instagram, facebook and see her first run of screenprints here. You can also check out Moulettes music and follow them on Instagram.
The Moulettes upcoming album is ready for preorder here.
We’ll definitely follow Niamh’s projects closely and cannot wait to see the pictures she’ll bring back from her tour with the Moulettes!