Michael Kemp is a freelance photographer who makes his living from street, documentary and news photography. For 25 years he was a photojournalism and documentary editor, before founding independent photo agency In Pictures in 2009 and becoming a full-time freelance photographer. His personal work is stylistically very different to his day-to-day work, and focusses on industrial landscape, particularly where it interacts with nature. The LCN programme has enabled Michael to develop this work further.
What new project are you introducing to your practice and why?
My latest project is on Gravelly Hill Interchange in Birmingham, commonly known as Spaghetti Junction. I find it a fascinating monolithic work of civil engineering and continues my fascination with a run down aesthetic, where beauty in nature meets its polar opposite, and how local people interact with the space. I wanted a personal project to work on while I am in Birmingham and after my first visit to the junction, I was hooked. For this project I have been using 24mm and 45mm Tilt Shift lenses to maintain exact vertical uprights for the architectural element of the photographs. Predominantly this is done hand-held and on a tripod in low light. This is the first time I have used this technical approach meaning that all elements (focus, exposure and amount of shift) are done manually. Using similar camera movements used on projects I have made on 5x4 film, this approach keeps costs down and allows me to work and experiment more freely.
What was the main motivation behind your application to the LCN programme?
Even though my ‘day job’ shooting news and documentary pictures makes my living, it’s my personal work which makes me come alive in the photographic sense. I have struggled to make this part of my commercial practice and the work has rarely been seen. So LCN is giving me the confidence, grounding and advice to start to do just that, hopefully with the potential one day to make print sales, exhibit and publish.
What is the most useful advice you’ve been given on the LCN programme so far?
To be honest, it’s not any single piece of advice or tip. What has been most useful for me is the support and inclusion by the staff at Four Corners. I’ve also found specific workshops have made me look at things in a way which has more direction. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to some one-to-one help with funding applications, which will be invaluable. The collective support from other LCN members also gives a genuine boost, so I guess all of this adds up to a greater sum of its parts.
What plans do you have after participating with LCN?
To continue the work with the tools and practical knowledge I am learning and apply them to other projects. To get my work out there and see what happens. I’m currently working on an edit of a pure street photography set I have shot at Notting Hill Carnival over the last decade and plan to hammer that down from 250 selects to about 60 to show around. You can see this and all my other personal projects here. I’d love to hear others' opinions on the work. If you would like to be added to my email list do drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The impact of London Creative Network
London Creative Network at SPACE
LCN Story: Peer Social – Artists Beyond LCN
LCN Story: Interview with Artist Becky Brewis
LCN Story: Furniture Maker Rob Brain
LCN Story: Interview with Artist Thom Bridge