Michael Jolliffe - Photographer

Interview  

29/12/2014

Can you talk a little about how you came to pick up a camera and use it as a tool to make images?

I guess I first became interested in art during primary school. I remember that I had a paper collage of a planet displayed in the Art Gallery of Western Australia as part of a children's art program that my school participated in. The teacher was impressed with my picture because of a concept that I talked with her about that in the future people would travel around in tubes, like on the Jetson's. My grandma was very proud as she is an amateur artist with oil paints, I was always fascinated with art and drawing especially through school. I didn't handle a camera really until my family went on a holiday and I bought my own camera to capture snapshots on the trip, it was a car trip across Australia. I loved getting pictures but not using it seriously for years. I bought my first serious camera only a few years ago.

Most of your photographs are black and white, why is that?

I feel that black and white images invoke a sense of nostalgia and timelessness, high contrast images can be very striking in design terms and there is more mystery or fantasy as we do not see the world as black and white naturally. I also think that it can be used to create intimacy, if that makes sense.

You primarily shoot candid portraits and street photography?

Yes, when I first got my DSLR and started learning how to use it I tried to learn all the technical side of things and thought that I wanted to be a pro photographer doing fashion or something, I didn't really know what I wanted. At the moment I am happy making photographs of the things around me, my daughter, friends. I hope to create intimate and candid photographs with an honesty, posing for the camera is mostly boring and generic to me. I find street photography challenging and interesting in the way people relate to each other in public, I like watching people and making up stories about them. I always try to capture personality and present them with dignity.

In a few of your street photos you are present in the form of a shadow or reflection, is that intentional?

Yes and no, I didn't think about it too much when I was first shooting but my master in the Arcanum, Valerie Jardin, pointed it out. I gave it some thought and decided that I am a part of the streets and a bit like the observer effect in that my presence changes what I am observing. I can't remember the quote or who said it but it's something like, in every picture there are three points of view, the subject, the artist and the viewer, I thought it was interesting to think of that and make not so obvious "selfies" haha.

What equipment do you use?

I have a bit of a collection of film cameras. I started picking them up at markets and learning to shoot all manual then experimenting with polaroid cameras and anything I find interesting. For most of the pictures on my website I have used my Fujifilm X100s and Voigtlander R2M with 35mm lens. I found that I prefer rangefinder style cameras and I'm comfortable with the 35mm focal length.

Thanks, it's been interesting chatting with you, where can people go to check out your work?

My pleasure, they can go and check out my website at www.michaeljolliffe.com