Hi Samantha, thanks for taking part in our first ‘interview with photographers’ ongoing exhibition series at Gallery 116. We’d like to ask you a few questions and also introduce your work to those that aren’t familiar with it, or haven’t visited your exhibition yet.
Gallery 116: Can you give a brief introduction and tell us how the idea behind your Protected project came to realisation?
Fairbanks: As I go to university outside of Stoke-on-Trent, I wanted to show the beauty of where I live through landscape images. Many people thought Stoke wasn’t beautiful, which merely made me more determined to show them that it is. I then chose to focus on the nature reserves of the city because both the council and the community keep these places beautiful and protect them for the people in the city, showing that not only are there landscapes within Stoke-on-Trent which are aesthetically pleasing and cared for.
Gallery 116: I see from your photographs you’ve used a black & white process for the images, why did you decide on black & white over colour?
Fairbanks: Throughout my entire portfolio I have always preferred to work with black and white, therefore continued this here. I find that black and white images are more intriguing than colour because we don’t naturally see in black and white, in my opinion it causes us to look more closely which is what I wanted.
Gallery 116: Is landscape and environmnent something that will be a recurring theme in your work or will you be moving on to do something different for your next project?
Fairbanks: I will be continuing with landscapes into my next project, still focusing on Stoke-on-Trent although this time relating my work to the residents of the city and the fond memories they hold of the area. Although I would like to venture into still life work in the future.
Gallery 116: You’re currently studying photography, in your last year at university, is this your first solo exhibition outside of university settings and how easy / hard have you found it?
Fairbanks: Yes it is, I wouldn’t say I found it hard, but it was different from what I am used to. Usually I have one or two responsibilities, yet here I was responsible for everything, forcing me to improve my time management to make sure everything was ready in time.
Gallery 116: Whom or what are your current inspirations or heroes you look up to, inside or outside of the photography world?
Fairbanks: The environment itself is my inspiration.
Gallery 116: Why and when did you decide that photography was something that interested you, and you wanted to study it more?
Fairbanks: I realised photography was something I wanted to do when I was deciding which college to attend. I went to an open evening and got talking to the photography tutor. I liked both what I heard and saw so took the class along with a few other art based subjects. After completing my A levels photography was the one subject I thoroughly enjoyed so continued my education in the subject.
Gallery 116: Is there an area or subject in photography you’d like to explore more, and if so what is it?
Fairbanks: At the moment I am interested in delving deeper into meanings of landscapes, as mentioned above I will be doing this by referencing personal stories and opinions which caused the creation of the image.
Gallery 116: Looking back on your current Protected project is there anything you’d do different or change if you could?
Fairbanks: Ideally I would like to have spent more time photographing each individual nature reserve. I chose to only show my photographs from four of the nine nature reserves because these areas were the ones I visited the most. In the future I may return to this project and complete every nature reserve in the city.
Gallery 116: Lastly, what would be you dream job in photography?
Fairbanks: Ideally I would like to work as a freelance photographer for as long as possible.