Graduates 2023: Ben Stezaker: Photography

“Coming from London to a new city by the sea gave me a completely new place to explore and photograph. It opened my eyes to new things and I take a lot of inspiration from the sea.”

Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

My most recent series, Opacities, a series of contact prints of obscured glass, was inspired by a quote from a Thomas Ruff lecture where he talks about looking at rather than seeing through photographic images. I am interested in establishing a distance by creating a blockage from the context of the images to focus on the surface and materiality and to confront the way images construct reality. Another major influence was Geoffrey Batchen’s writing on William Henry Fox Talbot’s early window image (1835). Rather than images being a window onto the world, I have created a way of looking at transparency itself. In doing so I have revealed the glass’s semi-liquid state through the cyanotype medium and also a strange molecular quality on silver gelatine paper. It is the medium of transparency creating and image of itself in another medium of transparency.

How have you found your course and what made you choose it?

I started on sculpture, however with the facilities being closed through the Covid-19 lockdowns it made it very difficult to make sculptures. Instead I began photographing found sculptures and with the guidance of Richard Wentworth my work naturally flowed into photography.

Despite the obvious continued impacts of Covid-19 I feel the Photography course has allowed me to explore my ideas fully via the technical facilities and staff to produce a refined installation for the graduate show and portfolio for future opportunities.


Did you go on a placement or ? If so could you tell us about it – what were your takeaways?

My course didn’t have a placement year. However, during the course I worked as an assistant to Jo Quigg, a fashion photographer, on shoots with Next and Crew clothing. I have also been working freelance on shoots with brands such as Route One and Para Studios. As well as photographing for Brighton Girls Skateboard Club and bands such as Old Chase to fund my own photographic practice. I have also created fabric cyanotype prints for a third year Fashion Design and Business student, used in their graduate collection. I also photographed the finished collection with the images being displayed in the final show.


Was the location of your course in Brighton more important than you thought it would be?

Most of my images during the course were taken in or around Brighton. Coming from London to a new city by the sea gave me a completely new place to explore and photograph. It opened my eyes to new things and I take a lot of inspiration from the sea.


What are your plans after graduation?

After graduating I plan on entering my work for open calls and competitions as well as applying for residency’s and see where that will take me. I also plan on working and making some money to travel, explore and take photos of new places. As well to fund and create new series of work.


 If you could give you 16 year old self any advice about going to University what would it be?

The best advice I could give is that art is subjective, ‘mistakes’ that you make can actually be more effective than what you intend to create and become new ways of working. Trust in yourself, your work and the process. Keep your options open, try everything and find what you really enjoy. The more skills and experience you have, the more confident you will feel when finishing the course and finding work.


Instagram: @ben_stezaker

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