An Interview With: Marisa Bruce

What academic establishment are you currently studying at?

I am currently studying at Edinburgh College, working towards my Bachelors Degree in Professional Photography.

What photographic genre do you consider your work falls into?

The great enjoyment from my degree course is that I am taught many different sections of the industry from still life, fashion and architecture. Within the last year I have become really passionate about documentary and portraiture photography, my work falls into both these categories.

Can you tell us a little bit about your current body of work?

This year as part of my studies, I spent three months with the Fire Brigade based in Perth, Scotland. During this time, I worked on building a strong relationship with these men and women, to portray a sense of family within the fire department.

The series was focused on studio style portraits as well as action shots, following the men and womens working life within the station. I wanted to portray a sense of what these people do, showing another side to the Fire Station, which might not be something the public see.

Can you talk us through your process of image making; this can be your research, influences and means of image production for example?

Research to me is hugely important when conducting a series like this, I regularly study other photographers work. I feel this improves my work and I cant stress enough how important it is. Throughout my course, we are encouraged to keep workbooks, again hugely important. This is where I keep all of my research, notes, and contact sheets, and collate everything together. I will also add images in here that have gone wrong; it leaves room for my development. Working in this process means I can look back and see my photography change just in a few months.

Over your three-month documentary, what challenges did you face? What did you learn about the nature of the emergency services and how did you try to represent this visually?

Like any documentary work the key is to build a strong relationship with the people you will be photographing over a long period of time. This is something that can be a challenge for even the most confident of people. I found this of course challenging but incredibly important. Once you have trust in the relationship, this brings out their characters, which is then portrayed in the images.

I was lucky enough to carry out a three-month documentary prior to this with Police Scotland. Due to working so closely with the emergency services, I had an incline about what to expect. Although, this exceeded what I had initially thought. There is a huge bond between the men and women I was working with, and it is something I really strived to portray throughout the series. To me, the Fire Brigade is more than just putting out fire; they have a whole array of other work. To me this was very important to show.

What do you hope for your viewer to gain from seeing your work?

I hope the viewer gets a sense of the many different areas in which the Fire Brigade work within. Throughout the project, I want the viewer to have a sense of feeling evoked when viewing my work.

What are your future plans for this body of work? Where do you feel your work situates in todays photographic world?

I wish to carry on this series of work, focusing more on capturing portraits of the men. These would then be combined altogether to give the series more depth. In terms of where my work situates I feel it falls into of course documentary photography. Although, my images could be used in fire safety training booklets or for recruitment purposes within the Fire Brigade. 

All images copyright of Marisa Bruce