An interview with Ben Burfitt

October 07, 2019  •  1 Comment

An interview with Ben Burfitt
Copyright Ben Burfitt

 

 

RH: What attracted and inspired you to your current documentary project?

BB:  It’s something I very much fell into by accident. For a long time I was trying to come up with a project but nothing really stuck. I started helping out with my girlfriends dog walking business. When our daughter was born I took over the walking full time and found myself too busy with dogs and a new baby to work on much outside of work or home. I started to take my camera with me to work everyday and I’d say the project developed organically from there.

 

RH: Can you talk us through the planning stage for your project?
 

BB: There was no real planning at all.

 

RH: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

 

BB: Not really. It’s all a learning process and every mistake leads to some sort of correction or new idea.

Copyright Ben Burfitt
 

Implementation and Completion

 

RH: How have you dealt with any challenges and difficulties within your project?

 

BB:  The dogs move pretty fast and the autofocus on my camera just isn't fast enough, so that meant having to prefocus, which in turn meant needing as much depth of field as possible, which in turn meant needing as much light as possible. Being from London, good light was unreliable, so I started taking a flash with me everyday which has ended up being an integral part of the whole aesthetic of the project. Aside from the technical stuff, there’s also the challenge of doing the same thing everyday and somehow trying to keep it interesting, which in a way leads back to the technical stuff. For instance, I switched from triggers to a TTL cord so I could sync the flash at 1/4000th of second. This opened up new creative avenues and meant I could pretty much kill all the ambient light, allowing me to take a totally different type of photo than I could have before. 

 

RH: How long do your projects tend to take from start to finish?   
 

BB: This one has been going on for about three or four years and I suppose there will be some sort of resolution to it in the form of a book. I’m not actually sure that my projects ever really end. I just tend to shoot whatever is happening around my life at the time, so as long as I’m working with the dogs I’ll continue taking photos of them. having said that I am looking forward to doing something completely different, I don’t know what yet but I’m sure something will present itself.

Copyright Ben Burfitt
 

Editing and Sequencing

 

RH:  Do have several images to edit of one fleeting moment or do you have one well-constructed precise image that you have captured?

BB: A bit of both, in that I take a lot of photos and usually at the end of a good days shooting I might have three or four half decent ones if I’m lucky (it’s all luck) There seem to be two types of photos that happen with this project; there are the ones that end up good by some sort of serendipity, and then there are the ones that almost turn out good but contain the spark of an idea. The latter ones end up being these obsessions that can take months or years to get. The whole project is pretty much based around a handful of very deliberate images and the rest are just these lucky moments that happened while trying to get something else.

 

RH: Within the editing stages, have you felt the project has taken on a different narrative than first envisaged?

 

BB: Definitely, but that’s what I love about it. It’s boring to me if I know where a project is going, or if I know exactly what images I'll be working to get from week to week. It’s the unpredictable nature of the whole thing that excites me. I’ve really only just started editing the work into sequences and trying to work out narratives, and what’s coming out of that isn’t what I’d have expected at all.

Copyright Ben Burfitt
 

Tips and hints 

 

RH: What would you recommend for people starting their own photographic project?

 

BB: Patience and determination are probably the two most important things I can think of. If you stick at something long enough you’re bound to get good at it. It doesn’t really matter what it is your taking photos of, it’s how you take those photos that’s important. I suppose it has to be something that matters to you personally.

 

RH: Does the camera really matter? 

BB: Yes and no. It matters in that certain cameras can do certain things, but it doesn’t matter if you can use whatever a given camera can do to your creative advantage. For example, if you have a camera that produces unsharp, noisy images, and you can make that work in the context and aesthetic of your project then what more do you need? I couldn’t take a lot of the photos I do without a camera that has a leaf shutter which enables me to sync flash at high speeds. That only became something that mattered because the particular camera i use can do that. 

 

RH: Any books you would recommend reading to get the creativity started?

BB: 

I think photobooks are a very good way of finding inspiration, for me at least.

I’d recommend:

Trent Parke - Minutes to midnight

Walker Evans - American Photographs

Alec Soth - Sleeping By the Mississippi 

Martin Kollar - Provisional Arrangement

Mark Power - Good Morning America I & II

Saul Leitter - Early Colour

These are just a few that I’ve very much been inspired by recently.

I also just finished reading “The Pleasures of Good Photographs” by Gerry Badger which was very good.


RH: Would you recommend attending photography workshops?

BB: If people feel that it would benefit them, then definitely. I haven’t myself but I can see how it would be a good way to speed up the learning process. 

 

 

Copyright Ben Burfitt
Copyright Ben Burfitt
Copyright Ben Burfitt
 

Copyright Ben Burfitt
 

Copyright Ben Burfitt
 

 


Comments

General Long Dong(non-registered)
Amazing photos......

Love them...
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