an interview with Andy Feltham

September 23, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

An interview Andy Feltham

copyright Andy Feltham

RH: Who is Andy Feltham

AF: Andy Feltham is a self-taught photographer who lives in Northampton, UK, who also works part-time within the healthcare setting at his local hospital. He has been exhibited in the UK, USA and Italy and featured in numerous publications, both online and in print. He has also been commissioned to work in the commercial as well as the fine art setting.

Feltham seeks to create a tension within each photograph by using meticulous framing, exposure and technique to detach the subject from its surroundings. This lends a subtle disquiet to the underlying themes of beauty, mortality and humour that hallmark his work. 

 

RH: What is your project about?

AF: “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”.

Aneurin Bevan, the Health Minister who created the NHS

 

Since its inception in 1948, the National Health Service has been the prized jewel in Britains welfare crown. Asmortality rates decrease year-on-year, the demand for cutting-edge therapies, and their associatedtariffs, continues torise.A victim of its own success, the NHS faces its biggest fight to date.

 

Picture of Healthis my take on a small corner of the NHS today. Shot over two years, starting in February 2016, I was granted access to all areas across Northampton General Hospital, a mid-sized district general hospital in Northamptonshire, UK.

 

In part I wanted to explore the unseen recesses of the hospital, hinting at the hidden complexities inherent within the delivery of care. Further, I hoped to highlight chronic underfunding across the NHS, which has meant that the provision of safe care to the populace of Northamptonshire has become increasingly difficult. Despite - or perhaps because of - this, it was also the aim of this project to celebrate the hard work and commitment shown by staff at Northampton General Hospital in providing the Best Possible Care to their patients on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

Planning

 

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

 

AF: I work part-time as a nurse educator within the NHS, and was seeing potential images in and around the local hospital where I work. I consider the NHS to be the jewel in the tarnished crown of Britain, and I wanted to do *something* to help preserve it. The inspiration for the project came to me after I’d gone to bed on one night in Jan 2016… I was so excited when the idea dropped that I couldn’t sleep for ages thinking of all the possibilities!

 

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

 

AF: There was quite a bit of negotiation required with the project, starting with getting the agreement from the hospitals Chief Executive, who then consulted with the Communications Team. Once I’d got their go ahead, then it was down to me to arrange shoots with various managers, often with tight time pressures as I didn’t want to impact on any of the hospital services. It was also important to me to carefully consider the areas in which to shoot, to give an accurate representation of all the facets of the care provided within the NHS, from birth to death.

 

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

 

AF: I’m pleased to say I only have one or two regrets in life, but I suppose I could go on and on shooting the series as there are unique moments worth capturing every day in the hospital. This wouldn’t have been practical however as I’m sure peoples patience would have worn thin!

 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

Implementation and Completion

 

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

 

AF: Well my main difficulty now is what to do with the work. My hope is that it’s a story of interest outside of the photographic world, but like many photographers, I’m better at making the work rather than selling the project to others once its done.

 

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

 

AF: Picture of Health was shot over two years between 2016 - 2018, and I think it’s important to ensure that the work is strong enough to be released on the unsuspecting public… therefore a timeframe of years (the more, the better), to really be able cherry-pick the best of the project. 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

 

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?

 

AF: It varies. I’m often quite instinctive when shooting, so it tends to be just one shot, but I know when I’m really excited about the scene before me when I’m shooting multiple exposures to ensure I capture the very best take I can.

 

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

 

AF: I aways wanted the project to be a celebration of the NHS, so in that regard it stayed on track throughout the process. I certainly wouldn’t rule out any changes, even now a drop of inspiration might hit.

 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

Tips and hints 

 

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

 

AF: There’s a couple of things I want to pass on… firstly if you’re stuck with for a story, just get out and shoot. As you collect the images, a theme or narrative may well bubble up to the surface. Also, I’d recommend that you don’t second guess what the responses of others might be to your ideas. If you have a location you want to shoot, approach the decision-maker with a smile and simply ask. At worst they can say ‘no’, but you’ll get better at the pitch in doing so.

 

RH: Does the camera really matter? 

 

AF: Ha! I’m probably not the best person to ask having just bought my mid-life crisis camera (a Fujifilm GFX50R). No it doesn’t matter, in that you can make compelling images with a smartphone; but as I’ve gone up the sensor sizes, I’ve found that you have more options when post processing with larger formats… photography is really just a series of decisions, so to have more options makes the job a little easier.

 

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

 

AF: I learn something from every photobook I own, and I have a few!! A couple of classics are ‘Uncommon Places’ by Stephen Shore, and American Prospects by Joel Sternfield. My favourite book is probably ZZYZX by Gregory Halpern. Any of these (and even better, all three) would be sure to get the creative juices flowing.

 

RH: Would you recommend attending photography workshops?

 

AF: I’ve only attended one workshop, a mate and I spent a day with Simon Roberts… my friend thoroughly enjoyed it, but said he didn’t gain that much from it, whereas I’ve been constantly referring to the lessons learnt on that day for the last two years. The difference was that I went with a heap of queries that I wanted answering, whereas my mate went along with nothing specific in mind.

 

Another friend has been on a few and generally refers to them as ‘Snake Oil’ but he says his workshop with Matt Stuart enabled him to visualise possibilities that he hadn’t considered before. So yes I’d recommend it, but have a specific goal and tailor who you go with to fit that objective.

 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

copyright Andy Feltham
 

copyright Andy Feltham
 


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