An Interview With: Katie Suthers
Who are you and where did you study?
I’m Katie Suthers, a documentary-style photographer from North West England. I aim to observe the full spectrum of human experience across the world and document the variation of cultures and the many different experiences of life; to capture how people from all corners of the earth deal with one situation in completely different ways.
The contrast of the deep wilderness and the bustling cityscape really intrigues me. You can pick up on so much information when engulfed in a big city and surrounded by so many people, but at the same time, when you go into the wilderness with nothing but a tent, sleeping bag, and a camera, you have the chance to reflect on it.
Photography is my chance to capture memories and moments that make up a sociological collection of documentary observation.
Living by the statement, ‘capture life, capture moments, capture it all.’
I studied at the Blackburn University Centre which is backed by Lancaster University. I first studied my Foundation Degree and then went onto the BA top up. I’ve had a great time and don’t really want to leave.
What is your artist statement for the body of work “Beautiful Mundane”?
People are caught up in the panoply of life pleasures, obsessions and terrors.
Missing the beauty found in the everyday. The quick lifestyle, the hustle and bustle.
Running to catch the train. Eating microwave meals as a quick fix in order to jump back on the treadmills that our life has become. Picking up on the horrors the media feeds us and missing out on “The Beautiful Mundane”.
Where has the project developed from?
When I walk round a city and get to know a place I’m not big on the tourist attraction. Yes, they’re nice and I wouldn’t want to miss them, but I find myself stopping to look at things that others just walk right by, that people just take for granted as they might find them mundane. I noticed this pattern in my life and also it started to be reflected in my photographic work. Photography is an artist’s way of showing the way they see the world and that’s where the beautiful mundane project developed from.
You talk about finding beauty in everyday life, however what determines "beauty" in the images you have chosen?
I believe beauty can be found in everything around us; if the lighting’s right and you get a great shadow, the most boring thing can look become beautiful. I kept this in mind when searching for hidden beauty in things people were just walking past without a second thought. On most of the images you can see a theme emerge in terms of shadows and light patterns. Photography is light so finding little pockets of light has a heavy influence on my work.
This image was taken of the backseat of my car whilst I was just sat waiting for my partner to finish work. A mundane task that I do everyday but seeing this pocket of light justified the wait and now this image is a constant reminder to look for the little moments of beauty in an otherwise mundane moment.
What was the processes of making this project?
I started to notice that my work wasn’t following an ordinary theme in photography, like landscapes or following colours, it had become a mix of subjects but somehow they all still managed to fit together. After collecting more and more images of this kind and realizing that I was spotting things others didn’t even notice I started to look for them more. Eventually I got to a point where I wanted to make a series from the work and saw that the underlying theme of the work was seeing beauty in the mundane. From feedback from my tutors and other students on my course I became more confident in my way of seeing and now rely on that as part of my work ethic.
How would you like the viewer to feel in response to your work?
I would like the viewer to pick up on the beauty of the images and rethink the way they see the world around them. I’d hope they would then begin to realize that beauty can be found in everything it just depends on your mindset and how you yourself wish to view the world. With a different angle of view or a different band of light things can look completely different.
What are your plans for the future?
Along with a close friend, Cam Procter, I am currently exhibiting work in the Urban Room Shop in Blackburn, Lancashire. The exhibition, entitled ‘Sand and Cement’, reflects on architecture in Blackburn and other corners of the world.
Whilst I’ve been working on ‘The Beautiful Mundane’ project I’ve been running a few things along side it. One of my longest running projects is ‘The story of her’. I’m hoping this will be a project that runs throughout my life as it documents the home life of me and my partner but I’m looking to split it up into chapters and publish this work alongside an online continuous running exhibition.
The main thing now is finding work that can fund my personal projects and continue to share my view on the world.
What is the best piece of advice you could give a student of photography?
My main advice would be stick with it and constantly consult with your tutors their input on your work will become invaluable and their input is what you’re paying for. Also don’t be afraid to break the rules of photography so to speak. Your time at university is a time to experiment and find your own style within photography, take in all the advice you can, don’t dismiss any of it- even if it doesn’t apply now, it may in the future- but remember the work is yours and ultimately its up to you what path you take.
All images copyright of Katie Suthers