We had the privilege of catching up with Justine Ellul, a 22 year old reading for her B.A. degree in Photography. What started out as a hobby at the age of 15, has transitioned into a freelance career. She is not afraid to approach people and photograph them. We discuss her work, vision and style of photography.
1. WHAT DOES PHOTOGRAPHY MEAN TO YOU?
I have always expressed myself through photography. I remember my younger self capturing shots of anything and going back to them to remember certain days or moments. Up to this day, most of my journals consist of photographs that are filled with connections.
2. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER TO “CONNECT” WITH HIS SUBJECTS TO BRING OUT THEIR TRUE SELF?
My photography revolves around people. I’m mostly into candid shots which would need more observing rather than connecting. However, when they’re not candid shots, I always make sure I step into the person’s comfort zone. It is important to understand what the person is not comfortable with and help one express his natural self.
3. SINCE YOU’RE INTO CANDID SHOTS AND STREET PHOTOGRAPHY, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THAT? DO YOU NORMALLY ASK FOR PERMISSION TO BE ABLE TO GET CLOSE TO THE SUBJECT?
Street photography may be considered as a dangerous one. Th ere are a few countries which don’t even allow it, so as not to violate one’s privacy. I’m one who fi nds it diffi cult to ask – and having a huge camera in hand doesn’t help! Furthurmore, I feel that asking for permission beforehand would ruin the moment and making the protagonist self-conscious, thus not giving the same feel overall.
4. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE CORE ELEMENTS OF A “STRONG” IMAGE?
It all depends on what you’re shooting. Movement, moods, character – there are many things that build an image to be strong. However, I notice that my favourite shots all revolve around eyes – they speak.
5. COLOUR VS. BLACK AND WHITE. WHY ONE OVER THE OTHER, AND IS THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS DIFFERENT?
I don’t really have a favourite. I love having portraits in colour, and street photography in black and white, but sometimes they work vice versa – it all depends on the subject.
6. HOW DO YOU FIND SHOOTING LANDSCAPES COMPARED TO SHOOTING PEOPLE?
Shooting landscapes has never been my thing. I fi nd it too easy and empty, whilst a person fills up the photograph, creating a story and making the viewer wonder.
7. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN CREATING A “STORY” IN A SOLO IMAGE, COMPARED TO A PHOTO SERIES?
I love creating series as I find them very interesting. Even though the whole process takes up a lot of time, it gets you attached and makes you understand and learn during the whole process.
8. DO YOU CREATE PERSONAL WORK OFTEN? IF SO, ANY PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE?
I keep myself busy with photography, shooting something everyday and working on what I would have started months later. As long as I know I’m creating something with photography, I’m happy. I recently exhibited some works I’ve done in a darkroom about domestic violence, in collaboration with four more artists. I am also working on two series involving locals and refugees; yet, they’re pretty much in the early stages.
9. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR AN ASPIRING PHOTOGRAPHER WHO’S PICKING UP A CAMERA FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Photography is Art, and I believe Art grows within you. If it comes naturally to you, let it lead you and don’t be afraid of it.