A few years ago, I had the idea of launching a zine, covering music, art, fashion and photography, sadly it didn’t come too much, luckily for me, I did get a few cool interviews, like this one from the very talented photographer Kerry Murray, from the beautiful region of Ericeira in Portugal.
Your photographs are very accomplished. How long have you taken photographs professionally?
Kerry: “My interest in photography started very young. My dad was an avid amateur photographer in his student days, and his father and grandfather had both been photographers by trade, so our house was full of photographic books and paraphernalia when I was growing up. By the time I had reached high school I had read all the books and developed an interest in taking photos but it wasn’t until about aged 15, when I started studying photography as one of my art-class subjects, that I really began to take it seriously”
With new genres of photography seeming to spring up every day, which genre would you class yourself as?
Kerry: I guess I would say my photography is more artistic, interpretive. I like to shoot in a documentation way, I’m not into overly posed and static photos of anything; food, people, anything. I like to convey a sense of flow, motion, emotion. I guess this isn’t really answering the question but sometimes it’s difficult, and limiting, to put yourself or your work into a “box”. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a landscape photographer, and yet that is what I’ve been shooting the most of lately…
Everyone takes photos for different reasons. What would you say it means to you to be a photographer?
Kerry: “Photography is a form of self-expression, an art, a form of communication… it’s like another language. I’ve been living in Portugal for just over a year and while I have made good progress in learning to speak Portuguese, I still have a long way to go. I still have a hard time expressing things and getting my message across, but with photography, it doesn’t matter what language your viewer speaks, it’s like it levels the playing field a bit”
I noticed a lot of your pictures are of everyday items or places, rather than more traditional shots. Why is this?
Kerry: “I like to find something special in the ordinary, to take photos of the simple, un-dramatic things that most people would walk past and not give a second glance. Taking photos to be an escape from real life sometimes, when I’m shooting I kind-of zone out, I lose the world around me and just shoot… it’s a wonderful sense of peace and exhilaration at the same time and it makes a day seem worthwhile if I got one good photo”.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
Kerry: “I have been slowly putting together a collection of images that document the people, places, and things that make up this beautiful little town. This place is truly magical and I would know as I lived the first 25 years of my life in Cape Town, which is without a doubt in the top 5 most beautiful places ever. The more I travel in Portugal, the luckier I feel to be able to come home to Ericeira and I doubt that I will ever get tired of photographing this special place”.
Have you ever seen a photograph that just made you say “Wow”?
Kerry: “There are lots of photos that make me say “wow”, I discover new ones all the time. I am constantly inspired by the work of other photographers, often by people whose style and subject matter is completely different from mine. An example would be Kevin Carters famous photograph of a starving child and a vulture that he shot during the famine in Sudan. That’s a “wow” photo, but for very different reasons. Its one of those photos that has become a representation of how powerful the media can be, and how much we need it, even if the things it shows are not beautiful. I have immense respect for photographers who can go into situations like that to bring the story back to the rest of the world. Its something I know I could never have the strength to do.”
Where is the best place you have shot?
Kerry: “That’s a difficult question. There are so many fantastic places that I’ve been to, it’s difficult to choose! Off the top of my head, I would say Istanbul, in Turkey. It’s a crazy city, very busy, constantly buzzing with people, traffic, boats, noises, an awesome place just to get lost in the crowd and wander. The history and culture here is incredibly rich; it’s the city where Europe and Asia meet and you can see it everywhere. Istanbul is a mixing pot in the true sense of the word; Islam and Christianity, orthodox and secular, multicultural, multilingual, there’s a little of every part of the world here and this diversity makes it a travel/street photographer’s ideal destination”.
What is your best moment as a photographer?
Kerry: “I love when i feel like I caught the moment I was aiming for. When I get home and download and look quickly to see if it turned out as well as I had thought it had, make sure everything is right, and when it is, it’s a great feeling. I also love that moment when you’re going through your shots from the day and a photo that you didn’t really think about, or plan, turns out to be “the one”. That’s a great feeling too”.
Colour photography or black and white?
Kerry: “Both. I love both, but they serve different purposes. Black or white is more graphic, higher contrast, which suits some situations but not others. It depends on the subject matter.”
What is your photographic inspiration?
Kerry: “So much stuff inspires me! The world around me, other photographers, artists, designers, clever people. I’m inspired by random moments on public transport, peeling paint, wooden windows. The sea, windy days, early mornings…”
Can you sum up in five words your photographic style?
Kerry: “Documentary, Spontaneous, Easy-going, Emotive, Artistic”
What do you believe the future holds for photography?
Kerry: “Photography has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, and will continue to change as technology advances. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to change, but for sure it will be completely different in 20 years’ time. The more important point here is that change is inevitable, in everything, and it’s how photographers deal with these changes that affect the industry more than the changes themselves. The digital era has made access to photography much easier, and this in turn has raised the bar of professional photography. It’s no longer good enough to just have the equipment and call yourself a photographer. That might have worked 20 years ago when there were a lot fewer photographers in the market, but not now. Now, in order to be successful, you have to be not just good at what you do, you have to be great, you have to innovate, be one step ahead of your clients and your competition. It’s more difficult to be successful but I think the digital revolution has forced photographers to up their standards to stay in front, which is never a bad thing”
How do you feel about digital manipulation of pictures?
Kerry: “Digital manipulation, in the right hands, is an art form in its own right. But it all depends on how the image is going to be used. In news media and reportage, digital manipulation is obviously not acceptable as it goes against the very purpose of those photographs: to tell the story as it is, to be a truthful witness to an event. In a more artistic field, I have no problem with digital manipulation and when skilfully done by an experienced graphic artist it can be amazingly beautiful. I don’t think there is any value in judging digital manipulation with the “standards” and “rules” of the film era. It’s completely irrelevant, like judging photography with the rules and standards that apply to painting, or ceramics. The rules need to be re-written, new standards need to be set. I do quite a lot of post-processing on my images, which is obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of Photoshop, but again it depends on the context of the images. I alter colour balance and contrast but don’t often take things out or add things into my images, mostly because I’m not very experienced with that level of manipulation and there’s nothing worse than a badly Photoshopped image…”
What is your favourite photograph, either your own or another photographers?
Kerry: “I change my mind all the time on this subject, it’s difficult to pick just one favourite and stick with it forever. At the moment because I am in the planning stages of my own wedding I am looking at loads of wedding photography and I guess I would have to-day that this one is my favourite…for now”.