Interview: Colin Blakely

Alec Schuppel: I am curious about your process of creating the titles that you come up with for your some of your black and white photographs, do you have the words in mind when taking the photo? Or do you wait until you have the print to think about it for awhile?

Colin Blakely: The titles all come after the fact (usually around the time I am working on getting the image ready to print), however are always based on something I was thinking about at the time I took the picture. An example would be "The Anachronism of Basic Instinct." When I took this picture, I was watching a duck who had for some reason decided to land in the park near my house. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the dog stalking across the grass in the way hunting dogs like that do. He was dragging along the teenage kid who was walking him. The kid was just doing his best to hang on, but this dog was completely focused on making it over to the duck. I know this dog and the family that owns him, and he has never been hunting. Yet there he was do not what he was trained to do, but what he was bred to do: following his basic instinct. The scene was beautifully poetic and completely ridiculous at the same time.

The Anachronism of Basic Instinct © Colin Blakely

Alec Schuppel: What exactly is the theme that you believe your photography revolves around?

Colin Blakely: On the surface level, it is an exploration of place. On a deeper level, it is about trying to find and capture timeless moments. Someone once said about my photographs: "all photographs capture time, but in these photographs, time seems to have stood still for the purpose of being photographed." It's a subtle distinction, but one that I hope is at the heart of my photographs.

Untitled © Colin Blakely

Alec Schuppel: What is your relationship to the people you photograph?

Colin Blakely: It depends on the photograph. Some are complete strangers that I ask to photograph, others are friends, neighbors and/or family. I don't really see my photographs of people as portraits and I'm not trying to get inside the heads of those people like the great portrait photographer do. People in my photographs serve mainly as players in the narratives set out in the images.

Untitled © Colin Blakely

Alec Schuppel: How do you know when to take the photograph?

Colin Blakely: I don't. I get it wrong as often as not. Mostly, I try to just watch closely the scene as it unfolds and let instinct take over.

Recollection of the Battles Fought Maintaining the Home Front © Colin Blakely

Alec Schuppel: What do you hope captivates viewers about your work?

Colin Blakely: I hope people find some sort of universal experience in the images that they can relate to. I have a lot of people tell me my work reminds them of their childhood. Even though the place that I am photographing is very specific (all images were made within a two-block radius) he timelessness and non-specificity of the work gives many people a point of entry.

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