Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Interview #4 - Eleni Mettyear

It's been a long summer, and it's pretty much autumn now, but Approaching Velocity is back, with a photographer described as 'probably the best female photographer in Brighton.' Meet Eleni Mettyear.

Approaching Velocity has known Eleni Mettyear's photography for almost a year now, and over the last 12 months, Eleni has continued to amaze and surprise Approaching Velocity with every new set of photographs she takes.

What is your background to photography?
I always enjoyed using cameras and being in front of them as a kid, and through my secondary school years I became aware of photographers and using photography as an art medium. So when I was given the option to take photography A-level just under two years ago I jumped at the chance. So that’s when I really began being interested properly in photography.

What influences your photography?
My main influences are people and fashion, and how fashion can express a person's character. I also love dressing my models up as things that have nothing to do with them, just turning them into something that helps create the image I’ve got in my mind, I guess I like seeing the transformation.
Other photographers and locations influence my work massively too, other people's work always is the trigger for any idea I have and it’s hard sometimes to find the balance between copying something and just taking certain influences. I constantly am walking around and spotting locations, sometimes I see one and a whole shoot will come to mind. I always watch films and get so frustrated that I can't just pop half-way across the globe to a desert or some slum in Brazil and do shoots there then pop back home again. Locations inspire me a lot actually.

Is there a particular subject that you find yourself continually returning to and photographing?
Girls and fashion. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of it, I’m lucky enough to have beautiful friends that are amazing at modeling.

You're constantly experimenting with your photography; using different camera formats, styles and subject content. Is there a particular reason the content and medium of your photography is so varied?
I feel I haven’t yet found my ‘signature style’ and there is so much about photography that I don’t know, so I’m trying to experiment as much as I can until I find what I’m really good at because I’ve had pretty limited training so most of the stuff I experiment with is just me winging it and seeing how it comes out. Also, I’m always being influenced and inspired by new work so I’m constantly wanting to try new styles and fashions; they don’t always work out and sometimes the pictures aren’t all that, but that’s the whole point isn’t it - experimenting.

Nearly all your photographs are photographs of people. Why?
Yeah, I don’t really know why. When I first started photography I was really into street photography taking pictures of like destruction and really gritty areas. I still find those places really interesting to photograph but I just got more into fashion and therefore people. I find people really interesting anyway, I can't count how many times I’ve just sat and watched peoples mannerisms without even noticing myself doing it. I just find people attractive I think.

Similarly, your photographs all have elements of fashion (such as in the clothing, makeup or pose); do you consciously go out to achieve this?
Yeah, usually I do. But I usually want the fashion to just blend in with the scene rather than being the main focus. The main focus is always the model or in some pictures the concept.

Do you have a format preference for your photography? How do you feel a film or digital approach makes a difference to your final images?
I really don’t know what I prefer, Polaroid I think is my first love and would shoot everything on that I had the money, I love and hate how film can be unpredictable but in a way that’s the beauty of it. Digital still is brilliant though because you can do so much with it and really get that perfect shot you got in your mind. Where as with film you just kind of wait and hope that they will be alright. I dunno what I like more though its all lovely.

The Internet has transformed the way people create, disseminate and consume art. How has this affected your photography?
Yeah, I'm never really sure what to make of it to be honest. Flickr has been amazing and kind of got me noticed and stuff but then I think there is so so much on the internet that you just kind of blend in with the rest. And I don’t really know how to get art noticed, or where you can go with your skill or talent if it's not through the internet, but in a way I wish I wasn’t internet based.

What do you like most/least about photography?
What I like most is the creativity, taking an image from your mind and turning it into reality, how some images can really kind of have an affect on you after you look at it. How it can teach us about other cultures about places around the world and about history, how it just freezes a moment in time. I’m a bit obsessed with early photography of Brighton, streets that I walk down everyday are totally transformed from how they used to be, and the New York gangster scenes in the 20’s and 30’s I think it's wicked that its all captured in a photograph.

What I like least is probably how expensive it all is and annoying anal critics that always have something bad to say because its not perfect, nothings perfect and that’s the whole beauty of it. It sounds silly but I don’t like it when people just discover macro on the digital camera and take photos of the hairs on leaves and call themselves photographers... there is probably a lot more that I like and dislike about photography but my mind's hurting - I’ve been typing too long and it will bore you to death.

Does your photography say anything about you, or speak for you?
I don’t really know, I think only other people that know me and have seen my work would be able to notice if it does or not.

In an ideal world, if there was anything you could shoot, regardless of expenses (money, time etc.) what would you choose to photograph?
Wow, I need to think about this properly. There is a lot of stuff that I’d want to shoot the list could go on so I’ll only give you a couple. I would love to do a proper underwater shoot with proper lighting and all that, with like 5 models with loads of random props amazing fashion and really extreme high heels and light bulbs hanging from the waters surface, obviously its not gonna happen but I’d like it to. I also dream of doing a fashion shoot where the models are suspended above New York so it looks like they're falling.

Do you have a favourite photographer?
I have too many favorite photographs, ranging from famous fashion campaigns to random pictures on flickr that I don’t even know the artists name. A few favorite photographers are Corrine Day, Ben Watts, Bruce Davidson, Weegie, Boogie, Guy Bourdin, Helmutt Newton, LaChappelle, Arbus, DarkDaze, Nan Goldin, Rankin... the list goes on, but I know I also have so many more to discover so they always change.

Alsi Kolcu, our last photographer, asks, 'why do you shoot?'
Sometime because I’m bored and get jealous of everyone else’s good photo’s that I want to see what I can come up with. But mostly because I want to get the image in my mind out and turn it into reality, it never works out how I plan but I do what I can.

And lastly, what would you like to ask/know about the next photographer interviewee?
What does taking photos mean to you?



If you'd like to be considered for an interview, or know someone talented, get in touch with Approaching Velocity at approachingvelocity AT googlemail.com explaining why and with links where appropriate.

AV #4 Buy a diary, and manage your time. You'll achieve so much more with your days and weeks. Just remember to take time off and improvise sometimes... 

Please respect our copyright.
Words (c) 2009 Eleni Mettyear / Nicholas Blake / Approaching Velocity.
All images in 'Interview #4' (c) 2009 Eleni Mettyear.
Approaching Velocity's editor is Nicholas Blake (www.nicholasblake.org) who has had a lot on recently.