Sometimes I realize there are a lot of things in my life I have to feel blessed with. Ofcourse my life wasn’t always like this, but today I am doing the things I want and I am following my passions. My biggest passions are fashion and writing, and because I’ve been busy with that a lot lately, another passion started; a passion for photography. It began with fashion photography and soon my interests grew and they extended to almost all kinds of photography. And because my interests grew, I began to discover a lot of new things and met many new people too. One of the people I met, was photographer Diana Patient. When I visited her blog, I saw a link of her website and when that page opened, it was love at first sight. You have to know I always dreamed of doing an interview, actually I dream of becoming an interviewer, so I decided to take a bold step forward and asked Diana if she would like me to interview her, and she did! I started working on the right questions, which was harder than I had expected, but when I look at this interview now, I feel very proud. It turned out to be a very open and honest conversation about passions and feelings, and well, that’s what photography is all about, isn’t it?
Read my interview with Diana Patient below.
First of all I wanna thank you for letting me interviewing you.
I really feel honored for the chance you give me to deepen this article.
1. When I look at your photographs I get a romantic and elegant feeling.
What thought goes behind the feeling your photographs express?
Hello Claudia! Firstly great blog and very pleased to be here! Thank you!
I’m very lucky in that my clients come to me for my ideas as an artist, so there is always a creative process that goes into a photoshoot. Some jobs are more involved than others for example an explanatory product shot is more functional and takes less creative thinking than a photograph taken in a creative portrait session.
Usually my method is to study the brief or the person, interpret and find inspiration. But even when the location is perfect, the overall look is in place I often don’t quite know what I will find once I’m photographing. Then begins that long experimentation period where thoughts flicker quickly and I’ll know the moment when I see it. It’s like sitting waiting to pounce when that moment of grace appears and then you push the shutter as quickly as possible muttering words of encouragement, or in my case squealing with happiness, haha! Tim Walker puts it really well:
“Sometimes when you’re taking a picture an extraordinary sense of luck and chance takes over and propels you to make pictures that you couldn’t in your wildest dreams have imagined. This is the magic of photography.“
2. What you often hear from photographers, is that they have a certain ideal thought and they wanna contribute to that thought with their pictures. Is there any kind of goal you wanna reach by your photographs too?
I think it is really important to photograph thoughtfully and I’ve often heard good photographers and artists in general advise that you need to have something to say.
I always think it is interesting how some of the best photographers have passions outside of the technical aspects of photography and they use images as a way of exploring that passion and commenting on it.
One of my favourite projects was a retelling of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood with heavy emphasis on the identity of the voyeur and the relationship between civilisation vs. instinct that we interpreted in the tale. The photoshoot ended up being quite dark but the questions we asked led us there so we followed and I learnt a lot about light and storytelling through images. It’s important to explore and say something because the pursuit will challenge you with the places it takes you. It’s motivation.
To answer your question I have a few projects ongoing. One is self-portraits for designers challenging the roles of model and photographer in fashion. Then as you may have seen on my website the over arching theme for all my work is Who Can We Be? I always take that to every shoot in the hope that I’ll learn something new about pushing the boundaries of how and what we define ourselves as.
3. Diana, when you look at your website, which by the way is gorgeous, you see a big variety of photography subjects.
Is there a subject you prefer to photograph or you wanna concentrate on more in the future?
You’re right, variety is definitely something I’m drawn to. I think it springs from my rather erratic personality: I think quickly and visually and jump from topic to topic and annoying my friends no end I’m sure! I like a lot of different types of people and I’m easily distracted. I get excited about a lot of things and see what I love in many different situations. I think this will always be with me but I have started to hone what really drives me in photography.
I’m working a lot more with words in sustained projects and also have some exciting news in what I have been doing in fashion photography, but can’t say anything yet!
4. You photograph architecture, portraits, fashion, but you also shoot a series of the ‘travellers’. For the readers among us that don’t know the travellers, the travellers is a group of gypsies. That series is quite different than the ones you shoot before. Why did you decide to photograph the travellers?
I was initially drawn in a romantic way to the idea of nomadism, the stories and a less technically driven way of life. Then with the rather sensational Channel 4 program My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and learning more about the lack of communication between ‘the settled people’ and the travellers, I felt that it was an important topic to explore. I travelled up to Appleby Fair Horse on the train, slept in a tent and then ventured out everyday in the hope I would understand a little more. I didn’t feel like I was in England. The Gypsy council was our base; it was the first year that they had started at what is the largest traveller fair of its kind in Europe . The council were working on bridging the communication gap between settled and non-settled people. What they are doing is wonderful.
There were so many stories from dancing jive on the street, to watching the horses being washed in the River Eden and meeting characters straight out of Channel 4’s documentary and also the unseen culture and tradition alongside (that probably doesn’t make as good TV) where wooden caravans, campfires and sung stories really happen.
I am always looking for ways to go back and photograph travelling cultures or some elements of gypsies. Perhaps I’ll get a van and join them…
5. Dancing is a theme that occurs a lot in your work. Is there any kind of reason for that?
I was and am a dancer. I practised a lot of styles, mainly Ballet and now I dance with a Contemporary group here in London. It is something I have done since I was very young. Dancing can easily be used in portrait photography as it is about expressing one’s self with their body and in photographs we communicate with the visual. Dancers are so aware of their bodies and it creates infinite opportunities to play around with shapes for me as a photographer.
On a more practical side my background in dance has given me a great advantage when photographing dancer’s audition photographs and portfolios. I understand when to click the shutter during the movement because dance is not a static art and to capture them at their best you have to understand the highlights of their performance. I feel very privileged to watch such beautiful dancers move and call it work.
6. When I look at the picture of the girl, sitting in the water with her hands in front of her face, it appears so contrasting. Is that an intentional purpose in your work? Or does a picture just comes how it comes? Can you please explain us how that works for you?
I have a “theme” in my head before every photoshoot. I call it a theme but it’s not really the right word. It could be colours, or a feeling that has been made up of a painting something someone said to be, or it could be a very clear scene. But as I said I never know exactly what will happen before I photograph but there is definitely an intention and bursting desperation to capture something that I can either explain in words or something that I can only express through actually taking the photograph.
7. Diana, you know I followed you along for a while now and I read on your blog that you used to work as a press photographer for the Daily Mirror. Can you explain us what kind of work you did for them?
My degree was actually in English Literature and Creative Writing and so after university I worked for a short while at the Daily Mirror. I started off writing but as I was being mentored by the picture editor I had told him about what I was doing in photography and he asked me back to experience the picture desk. I learnt so much and managed to photograph some moving things as well as some quite bizarre. The most strange was the opening of Harrods pet spa and snapping a dog having a blue manicure. Crazy!
8. This last question is about a great project you’ve started a while ago. You, of course sell your work and you can be booked for a photo session, but now you also sell a calendar. Can you please tell us more about the calendar?
The Diana Calendar 2013 is really exciting. It’s an excuse of 12 beautiful prints of portraits that have been taken exclusively for the calendar and I have included an online Diana Calendar all access page where Diana Calendar owners can go and watch behind-the-scenes videos each month read interviews. It’s engagement all year round and exciting to have the option of unlocking the secrets of the physical portrait in standing in front of you each month.
I really wanted to create a beautiful set of 12 prints that was still affordable for people to enjoy. Someone told me printing your work was really important and I didn’t believe him until I tried and it’s just so different. Each portrait in the calendar feels like a precious object to me now and a lot of work has gone into designing it,
The photographing for it throughout 2012 has been wonderful as well from shooting in a stair well at midnight in a flat in Berlin to creating in Rio cinema in Dalston a bit closer to home. It has been epic.
I’m hoping to repeat the experience next year for a 2014 calendar as there a few people still wanting to purchase a shoot and feature as spaces ran out this year, but I shall see. It has been a labour of love and who knows where 2013 will take me…
Well, Diana, it really was a pleasure discovering, chatting and eventually interviewing you. You are such a talented photographer and I really recommend my readers to buy the beautiful calendar Diana sells. Besides a beautiful calendar, it also is a real piece of art, that’s worth to be shown in your house. You can order it here!
Diana, I wish you all the best and I hope we will hear from each other again soon!