Linda Brownlee

1. Aesthetics – The study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty. How has aesthetic evolved over the years and how has this influenced fashion photography? How do you approach aesthetics in your works?

My approach is  fairly intuitive, instinctual and perhaps haphazard manner. What I find most beautiful are points of view that surprise, when the elements of shape, composition and light come together to make rare emotional observations. I’ve always been inspired and excited by documentary works and drawn to what feels genuine and real. I find myself continually attempting to capture the energy of in-between moments, ones that suggest a lack of awareness of the cameras’ presence.

2. Identity – “We contain multitudes” wrote Walt Whitman, referring to the fact that we see ourselves in different ways depending on different contexts. Nowadays, gender and sexuality have been explored in many ways – art, cinema and of course fashion – and fashion photography has been perceived as a means to translate and picture actual reality. How do you reflect identity in your works? How has the perception of our own bodies changed in recent years? How has it been influenced by media and by fashion itself?

In the media, I see a refreshing new wave of independent print titles and they are full of progressive attitudes towards the body. However, the mass perception about ageing bodies is still very negative. Botox and other enhancing cosmetic body alterations seem to have become far more accessible. Fashion designers are still using waif-like models to parade unrealistic small sample sizes and promote their new creations. And glossy fashion magazines are rather full of underweight teenage models. Top shelf adult magazines still portray curvy ladies in provocative poses promoting a particular male ideal. So, I guess although I think perceptions have changed marginally it still feels like we have a long way to go!

3. Beauty in Fashion – “The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express” said Francis Bacon. Fashion photography once depicted a perfect kind of beauty, almost false in its perfection. Today, fashion photography focuses on imperfection and peculiar traits. Which is your relationship with beauty? How has the language of photography mutated in the past years? 

As a photographer, I’m always hunting down beauty. I can find wrinkles, large pores and ill proportioned features as beautiful as perfectly symmetrical faces and flawless skin. Natural is normally synonymous with beauty for me. I do believe beauty is something that is captured through personality, expressions, gestures and body language. I think what I find beautiful also changes, it is sometimes related to a rebellion to the over-familiar, the constant imagery we’ve been culturally bombarded with.

4. Sociology – The study of human behaviour. How is photography capable of picturing social changes? Is fashion photography a way to picture cultural changes within society? How have social and cultural changes influenced your works?

The biggest social and cultural change is the explosion of photo sharing through media. I like the idea that Instagram filters, editing apps, incredible phone cameras might somehow democratize photography and a part of me loves to think of a whole industry thrown onto its toes and forced to re-acclimatise and re-assess, but perhaps the entire shift has contributed largely to a growing sense of dispensability.

5. Perceptive Variations: an exhibition about identity, gender, change. How have your works expressed this feeling? How do you express your personal background in your work?

Nostalgia seems to creep into my work more and my personal background is expressed as I revisit and explore the places, themes, passions, people and things I have an affection for. The images I have chosen to include in this exhibition reflect my long love affair with horses. I find them astoundingly beautiful in both body and spirit and being around them feels like a complete escape. As a child and teenager, I spent every bit of spare time I had down at my local riding stables. With this series, I was trying to express the connection and wonder I feel.

by Giovanna Pisacane