Jules: Since lockdown started over four months ago freelance photography commissions have been few and far between. This fallow period has allowed me to concentrate on more personal projects, one of which is a loose series of portrait shoots with artists and performers based in the North of England. The latest shoot was with artist Samra Mayanja. We spent a lovely afternoon walking along the River Aire talking about the lockdown, the art world, mutual friends and food! In between this I took a series of informal portraits of Samra.
Samra: The 1st photos that you took were for the documentation of 'recording-in-progress', a durational performance created and performed by myself and Sam Lanchin (@samOne samTwo). The creation of these photos has an entirely different process and register.
I move my eyes (internally, I suppose) between the shots of the performance and these more intimate photos of me.
These photos are still deeply performative, but I'm playing myself - which is more challenging than having process as costume or character. How do I move? Do I know my face?
Jules: The notion of performing for the camera is interesting. For me, when I'm taking someone's portrait the camera is always asking a question: is this the real person, or a version of who they want to be? And to what degree? I believe that building a rapport with the person you're photographing and putting them at ease is terribly important. It allows them to make more nuanced choices of how they want to appear and doesn't force them. Having someone like you (Samra) who is comfortable in front of the camera, who puts me at ease and who makes suggestions is a gift.