The Artist and the World around Them

Oliver Blowers

I am yet to work out if I photograph the world for myself. So far I think that the majority of my work is personal. However, most, if not all art ​is personal. I create images based on my own experiences. The themes my work follow are only the themes I create for myself. I may be influenced by the outside world, but it’s my interpretation of the world that is rendered.

My medium of choice is 35mm film. Shooting film feels very natural to me. The simplicity of the cameras I use allows me to focus far more on the subject. Every time I press the shutter, I spend 50p. As a student in London, shooting film is not the most economical choice, yet I continue to press that shutter without regret. It’s very refreshing to slow down and take time over every image. I find myself in autopilot most days, walking past the most amazing things without taking the time to actually appreciate them. Even in a very brutal city like London, there are moments where the stars align and the most mundane scenes just appear in the most beautiful way. Shooting film has allowed me to appreciate the subject, not necessarily the actual photograph. I won’t see that image for weeks after pressing the shutter, so why worry that it might not be perfect? They’re never perfect. That’s why I keep shooting.

I have been attempting to capture one interpretation of the world with my latest collection of images, ‘ruler of the universe’. ‘Ruler of the universe’ is a small body of work, shot mainly in Corfu, focusing on loneliness in an overly connected world. The themes explored within this body of work were not pre-planned. The images from these locations just felt lonely to me, the theme developed from the images, not the other way around. I never shoot images knowing exactly where they will end up, I don’t think this is a good way of shooting. You can become far too selective about the images you create if you shoot with a very specific goal in mind. I find the world may present me with a differing narrative that day and it would be a shame not to capture it. Shooting with that closed mindset will cut you off from capturing those unexpected moments. The more you pick up your camera and shoot, the more you’ll start to discover your own themes and narratives within your work.

I find it incredibly productive to have an ongoing project to work on, it gives me a reason to pick up my camera. Most of the time, I won’t end up with any new images for that project, but I will have taken a few photos that were still worth it. Sometimes I’ll go out and I won’t take a single good image and a lot of the time, I won’t even take any images at all. However, even if I’ve taken nothing new, I’ve still gone out, explored the world a little bit more, and become slightly better in the process.

I am currently working on a body of work titled ‘Cold Summer’. This project is very long term and likely won’t be finished for several years. Since starting Cold Sumer last January, I have only created a small body of images, however, I am yet to dedicate a lot of time to this project as it’s still in its early stage. All the images in the project were taken on walks around London, mainly in residential areas. I find myself fascinated by a lot of London’s residential architecture. Architectural movements like Brutalism populate so much of London. To a majority of the population, these post-war high rises are home, including myself. The more this project has developed, the more and more it has become about residential London and the way an outsider like myself views it. However, I know that the themes of this project will change the more I shoot, until it doesn’t just become a collection of images, but a collection of ideas, emotions and narratives.

At the end of the day, I try not to read too much into my work. I don’t like to decide for certain what a particular body of work is about, I don’t want to constrict how people view it. I’d prefer an individual to choose their own interpretation over mine.