Interview: Ian Holmes Takes Over ‘The Wild Coast’, South Africa
by Daniel Haim
Let’s admit something, one of the best parts in traveling is returning home with a memory card full of pictures and Ian Holmes did just that. Photography to the amateur is recreation, to the professional it is work, and hard work too, no matter how pleasurable it may be. The following text is not a quote, but a very very interesting story .. Ian managed to bring home achievements; winning the competition of Photographic Discovery France 2008 voted by the Union of Photographic Creatives and Dupon Lab.
Ian Holmes will be holding an exhibition this February of 2010 in France featuring The Wild Coast series in beautiful big prints. The exhibition will take place at 43 Rue de Vandrezanne 75013 Paris for 10 days with the opening party held the February 19th from 6PM – Ian says – Everyone is welcome! We encourage everyone to visit Ian’s photography website to discover more photography pieces and find out more about current and future exhibitions or if you simply want to praise his work this is where you should go: www.ianholmes.net
“It was a great experience” says Ian “I flew into Johannesburg, from there boarded a tiny plane that dropped me in the middle of nowhere. I remember flying low through this stunning valley as we were coming into land and viewing cows on the runway. After a long uncomfortable and sometimes scary taxi ride followed by a further stint in the back of a 4 wheel drive pick-up I finally arrived at my destination. A great little eco-friendly hostel ‘The Kraal’ set in a stunning unspoiled location. It was very much back to basics. No electricity, not even any fresh water. I lived on rain water for 10 days – well rain water and a great deal of cider and beer. I spent an awful lot of time mixing the 300 inhabitants of the village
Time often spent in the village bar. I always had my camera but didn’t really take photographs of the people at first. I spent a while getting to know them, chatting, drinking, just hanging out. When I did begin taking portraits I was amazed at how open they were. They seemed to love having their photo taken, what’s more they seemed to bare everything from the camera – they were honest, open and relaxed and I think that comes across in the photos, there was a real connection. If you don’t have that connection and trust with a person you’re photographing it’s damn difficult to get a good photo. I love that challenge and find it extremely satisfying when it all comes together. I guess that’s one of the things that keeps me taking photos day after day.
Daniel: When did all of this start? When did you realize that Photography was in you?
Ian: “In what now feels like a previous life I was an image retoucher. I then moved into another job that was a devoid of any creativity. I began to miss the creative side of things. However I didn’t just want to return to retouching other peoples images so decided I would go to school to learn how to create my own. I now find it extremely satisfying to be the ‘image taker’ as well as the retoucher.”
Daniel: Do you remember your first photography sale?
Ian: “Yes, Vogue publishing house called to license an image from me. They wanted to use it in Tatler UK Magazine. It was a photo I’d taken with my little plastic Holga camera. That one sale paid for the Holga several times over as well as several roles of film.”
Daniel: What are your favorite shoots, what inspires you to take a great photograph?
Ian: “Favorite shoots.. People.. If I had to label myself as a particular type of photographer I’d have to say people photographer. I love the challenge of trying to capture the real person within. I do also enjoy documentary photography, using my images to tell stories. For example when I shoot a wedding my goal is not simply to create an album but a beautiful story book that takes the viewer on a journey through the day. Inspirations.. Everything. I once read a book by English fashion designer Paul Smith entitled ‘You can find inspiration in everything – and if you can’t, look again’. Great title and a very inspiring read. Been a photographer has taught me to look at everything in a different way. I’m constantly taking images even when I don’t have my camera with me.”
Daniel: Can you share with us a good photography quote
Ian: “I remember reading a lot of rather famous photography quotes whilst studying for my diploma. I’ve forgotten a lot of them but one in particular sticks in my mind – ‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it’ – Ansel Adams.”
Daniel: So you’re exhibiting the photos from The Wild Coast in France this February. What’s the feeling like? What are your hopes from having the exhibition?
Ian: “I’ve found I really enjoy exhibiting my work. I think everyone (myself included) is now so used to viewing images of a few hundred pixels on computer screens it’s extremely refreshing (and as a photographer satisfying) to see a coherent series beautifully printed, framed and displayed in a nicely lit gallery. The work I do with exhibitions in mind are my personal projects. I think it’s essential for professional photographers to work on personal series in between assignments. I’m currently over in England working on a photo documentary regarding a serious environmental issue close to the area I was brought up. Hopefully this will exhibited in Paris later this year. To be honest I don’t really exhibit to make money – as mentioned before it’s something I enjoy. It’s meeting people who come to view my work. Networking that doesn’t involve sat in front of a computer screen, discussing photography over a glass of wine. Of course if people enjoy my work enough to buy my prints, well that’s great.”