Last Friday, I hit the resort’s very own art house cafe Shaws to check a Blackpool based photographer’s extremely interesting images. Free cake and coffee were on offer as the room filled with the good people of the ever-growing photographer’s scene in Blackpool. And why not Blackpool as a picture-perfect place, however Richard’s images take a different route. His images are not so much pictorial and not about Blackpool refreshingly but rather led by something quite different. I caught up with Richard to find out more about his very personal approach to portrait photography.
Tell me a bit about you and how you became a photographer?
I’ve had an interest in photography for as long as I can remember. A friend of my father was a photographer and I was fascinated from an early age by the cameras and black and white prints. As a child, I always had a camera with me, all the way through school and then as a teenager, I sold my record collection to fund my first darkroom.
I’ve worked as a wedding and portrait photographer, first in the 90s and again since 2010, however, a car accident stopped me in my tracks and ultimately led to me starting a Photography BA(Hons) degree at Blackpool and the Fylde College. Doing the degree is one of the best things I’ve ever done, it’s strange how things can work out.
What has influenced your current approach to photography?
As a portrait photographer, I would say early influences and favourites were Irving Penn, Arnold Newman, Elliott Erwitt and David Bailey. My photography practice has changed through study, becoming less about what people looked like and now my work is more about thoughts, feelings and emotions. The human body features a lot in my work and it is frequently about the relationship people have with their body.
My current style is in the process of developing. It started when being challenged by one of my tutors, Jon Rowe, to move out of my comfort zone. Around the same time Alan Kent, another tutor, lent me a pinhole camera and my experiments with film, blur, motion and alternative processes began. I try not to plan too much beforehand now and instead shoot by ‘feel’ and see where it takes me, I’m finding it an exciting way of working. Instagram is proving to be hugely inspirational, there’s a community of real talent on there and it’s fabulous to see the work photographers are producing all over the world.
How do you think digital photography has affected photography?
Digital cameras have revolutionised photography, it’s so accessible now and almost everyone has access to a camera of one form or another, whether it’s a smartphone, compact or DSLR. We now experience so many photographs on a daily basis it can feel like overload at times but it’s also revealed the creativity people have.
How long does the Shaws exhibition run for?
My exhibition at Shaw’s is on until 12 April. They have some fabulous coffee and lovely food on offer, so it’s worth popping in.
What is next on the cards for you?
I’m in the process of completing my final major project for my Photography degree. ‘Skin-to-Skin’ looks at the benefits to health and well-being of skin contact and how the brain releases chemicals which have a long-term positive effect. I’m always looking for volunteers to participate. I would like to continue working in this and similar areas after the assignment is complete.
I graduate in June so I’ll be looking to develop my creative practice, producing and selling fine art prints using Victorian processes.
I also offer training workshops, teaching beginners new to photography through to advanced lighting for professional photographers, either in small groups or on a 1-2-1 basis.
How can we continue to follow your work?
I’ve not had an account long but I am most active on Instagram, my username is @hardwickstudio and I try to keep it updated with my latest work. I also have my website www.hardwickstudio.co.uk which I will be redesigning soon. I have Facebook and Twitter accounts of @hardwickstudio and @richardhardwick respectively.
See Richard’s Exhibition at Shaws Cafe until the 12th April. It is highly recommended. You can find Shaws at 46 Clifton St, Blackpool FY1 1JP
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