We see a lot of interior photography at B&W and are certainly drawn to cooler, sleeker, uncluttered spaces; so it comes as a bit of a surprise how much we are enjoying the series of photographs that UK-based Tom Harford-Thompson has made of the homes of his rambling network of artists and creatives. While one might categorize these as interiors they follow none of the precepts of what we typically see (and publish).
No styling, no cleaning up, no perspective control, no post production and yet the way in which the spaces have acquired their look after years of an artist working and living there almost lends them a truly staged quality.
The project evolved organically over four years with one shoot leading to another, thanks to word of mouth within the community. Tom’s reticence in imposing order lets the artists’ live on the page and results in a coffee table book that belies it’s very purpose of creating an orderly collection.
Brick & Wonder: The vignettes feel decidedly unstyled and framed informally. How do you resist the urge to get more formal like so much architectural photography is?
Tom Harford-Thompson: The whole book has not seen a stylist. I am anti stylists as I want something real and lived in. I find most interiors and architectural photography too cold and impersonal so I was not tempted to shoot like that..!
BW: 'Interiors' is one of those irresistible genres that we seem to consume a great deal of, and you mention that so much of them seem un-lived-in. Are these images an antidote that, almost more like portraits?
TH-T: I like interiors that have formed organically and over a period of time. You get a patina of use that cannot be copied. I love the interiors of prewar cars that have been used and abused. This look cannot be replicated and I think the same is true of people’s houses, workshops or studios.
BW: How did the artists and other subjects feel about you wandering their spaces? Was there any resistance or shyness and did you ever feel like you were too intimate?
TH-T: I think most people’s inclination was to try and tidy up but I managed to dissuade them all for doing this. Usually what is cleared out of a picture or photograph is what is most interesting.
BW: How did you go about finding your subjects? Are they part of your network of creatives or was it more haphazard?
TH-T: The book came about over a four year period. I think that once your subject knows you are serious and relatively competent then they are happy to mention you to other people.
All images© 2018 Tom Harford Thompson