Chris Hoare – Interview
I was introduced to Chris Hoare’s photography back in June at the ‘Urban Nomads’ exhibition at the Emporium in Bristol. I liked what I saw, became interested in his work and wanted to know more. To read an short interview we recently conducted with him
Firstly could you please introduce yourself, name, and current location etc?
Hi, my names Chris Hoare I’m a documentary photographer by passion but all round photographer by trade. I’m currently based in my hometown of Bristol where I see my foreseeable future.
How would you describe your work to someone who may not have encountered it?
The work that I have produced thus far that I am proud of, include two of my main bodies of work called Dreamers and Telepathic Heights, both are grounded in the documentary mould. Both pieces document cultures from the sides of society, this is what I enjoy doing, gaining the trust of people, enough for them to expose me to their world.
How did you become interested in photography, and who are some other photographers that influence your work?
Unlike a lot of interviews I read of photographers, I didn’t discover photography when I was youngster, I was never really all that interested in the medium when I was a kid. Instead I discovered photography in my first year at college, the moment I was let loose in a darkroom I was hooked, I couldn’t get enough of it.
There are a lot of photographers that have influenced my work and inspire me to carrying on documenting the world with photography, so I’ll just name a couple. One that stands out as one of my favourites is Simon Wheatley, who I think is an incredible photographer and if you haven’t had the chance to see his book about the rise of Grime music in London then I think you need to. Another important one I feel to mention is Jocelyn Bain Hogg, who again is a fantastic photographer whose work continues to inspire me. I was lucky enough to meet Jocelyn a few times and his passion for telling stories has certainly rubbed off on me.
It would appear that you shoot both analogue and digital what is your preferred method and how do you use each differently?
Up until today my practice has been predominantly film orientated, I shot a lot of my projects using a Hasselblad and a Nikon F100. I love the methodology of film, from the anxiety of not knowing what is on in your film canisters after a shoot, all the way to the developing of the films themselves. This said the times when I have used digital I enjoy the speed of which you can process and edit your images which you just don’t get with film.
At this stage I feel that I am moving away from film, I no longer have the facilities that I have become accustom to over my years of study. On top of that I have been lucky enough to get my hands on a Canon 5D Mark II, which is an incredible camera, as you will know.
Only a few of pictures in my ‘Dreamers’ project did I use a digital camera, had I owned one at the time I would have used through out the duration of the project, its ability in low light to this day still surprises me. A side from this I still have a soft spot for film and I feel it still holds its ground in terms of quality and aesthetic, so with this in mind I won’t be getting rid of my Hasselblad any time soon.
Can you tell us a little more about your recent project Dreamers? How did you become familiar with Bristol’s Grime and Hip Hop Scene?
‘Dreamers’ is a study of Bristol’s Hip-Hop and Grime scene; in turn it is a representation of a culture, a city and a way of life. Being a fan of the music I had already laid the foundation for the project. I’ve always had an interest in urban culture; I’m drawn to the way it looks, the clothes, the performance or even the urban areas where it is traditionally rooted, it all interests me. On top of this I am fascinated in the way the culture has spread over the years, urban culture nowadays stretches far beyond the inner city areas where it was spawned, you see evidence of it everywhere you go, and this attracted me to documenting it.
My first encounters in to photographing the genre came in this way, I started to photograph youngsters who were rapping in the area where I live, Southmead, which is kind of a suburban council estate where grime music was beginning to thrive at the time. I began to notice this and was eager to document it in some way shape or form. It was these early experiences with the people I met that set me up for the rest of the project, which I still feel isn’t complete despite making a book out of it.
You have recently produced a photo book featuring the work from this project. What advice would you give a photographer needing to edit a body of work down and create a photo book?
First of all I would work out whether the project is fitting of a book, not all projects or stories are best told through a book. Mine I felt was best explained through a book form, so for me it was always my aim to have a book as the end result.
However if you are going to go down the route of compiling your work in to a book I think it is important to have the eyes of other photographers, designers or even just trusted friends to look at your book as you are creating it. I think it’s important to use your instinct and go with your gut feeling, but from my experience it isn’t always right. An example of that is when I came to picking images for some of the spreads in my book, because I was so immersed in the project and the book, I wouldn’t always pick the right images to pair next to each other, this is when my friends helped me using their fresh eyes. Besides this though I think it is important to always remember what your trying to say with the book and how the viewer of your book is going to perceive it, it’s easy to get lost in your work, I did it more times then I can count.
Has studying Press / Editorial photography at Falmouth University changed or developed the way you approach to new work?
Definitely, I’ve got the course and lecturers on the course to thank for getting me to where I am today, which feels a very, very long way away from where I want to be. What I think is most important though is the support that I got from the course, lecturers such as award winning photographer Guy Martin, course lead Mal Stone and multimedia producer Dave White were exceptional in the support that they gave me and my class mates. This is something that I am inevitably going to miss, because now it’s up to me to support my passion and produce work off my own back, without the deadlines and the guidelines, an exciting prospect but at the same time quite nerving.
Over the course of the three years the course gives all the tools you need to go and produce intelligent photography, when I began the course to where I am now I am a far more developed photographer.
It would seem that your work focuses more on Bristol than Cornwall why is this?
It’s simple really, there isn’t all that much in Cornwall that really inspires me and if there is one of my friends or classmates is probably photographing it. Bristol inspires me much more, it’s my hometown and I see it as a place where there is a lot to document, there is always something happening in Bristol.
I noticed on your blog that you documented the Bristol EDL march last month? How did you approach that event and did you get into any trouble whilst photographing the EDL?
Photographing the EDL march was a great experience; I really enjoyed it, despite getting a lot stick from, the EDL members themselves and at one point being trapped in with them, which became quite awkward when they start shouting at you, there pretty scary people a lot of them. With things like the EDL march though for me it was a bit of a rush, I got stuck in and it was really fun. The only thing I would have really liked would have been to be able to sell my pictures, in a lot of ways it’s kind of my fault, I don’t feel I was proactive enough in doing so, which is a lesson I feel I have had time to learn.
Where do you hope that photography will take you five years from now?
In five years I would like be living off of photography. Whether that is through weddings, commercial work or even family portraiture. To me it doesn’t matter so much, I see photography as a trade, and it’s a skill that I have worked hard to acquire. Obviously I would love to be earning a living off of telling stories with my camera, but at this stage I just don’t know where that money would be coming from, this said I’m never going to give up trying, it means the world to me and its something I am always going to be doing whether paid of not.
Last but not least, what’s coming up for you over the next year, photographically or otherwise? And what are some of your goals in regards to image-making?
At this stage I am working out what I really want to photograph, in a way I’m on the hunt for stories, I’ve got a few ideas which I am going to start shooting within the next month which I am looking forward to. Naturally though I am in a bit of a transitional period, having left university I am now trying to find my feet back in my hometown, which is fun, but sometimes things move much slower then you anticipate them to.
Chris was recently short listed for the SWGPP (South west graduate photography prize) and will be exhibiting some of his dreamers work from the 15th – 21st of October at Vinery Street Gallery in London.
You can take a look at more of Chris Hoare’s work here www.chris-hoare.com