An Interview With: Daniel Lickley

Who are you and where did you study?

My name is Daniel Lickley, I studied at University of East London, graduating this year with first class honours.

What is your artist statement for the body of work “Apply Cold Water“?

Swimming in open water is a pure and exhilarating experience that instills a great sense of freedom to those who seek out its cold rush.

Apply Cold Water brings together portraiture of swimmers from two countries, U.K and Finland, to explore the similarities and differences in their social and cultural connections to swimming in open water.

Where do your main influences come from?

I try to keep up with the work of as many contemporary practitioners as I can and therefore I am constantly taking little bits of inspiration from a wide variety of sources. One of my main influences for this project was Rineke Dijkstra, in particular, I was inspired by her approach to portraiture in her series 'bathers' which features full-body-length portraits of young teens and adolescents at the beach. Alec Soth also employs a similar style in his portraiture and I am a big fan of his work.

As well, I thought a lot about how I was engaging with my subjects throughout this project and how it would affect the portraits I was producing. For this I was heavily inspired by Laura Pannack, I went to two lectures and a workshop by this photographer to learn as much as I could about her style of portraiture.

Why did you choose to only just direct portraits?

As mentioned in the previous question, this approach to portraiture was inspired by Rineke Dijkstra. I wanted the different swimming locations to be an interesting feature of this project however, the people themselves will always be the most important part of my work and so I chose to photograph them directly, with them at the centre of the frame. Combined with the square format of my photographs, I found that this created a pleasing symmetry throughout the work, but more importantly, it drew the viewers attention towards the people and got them thinking about the similarities and differences of each individual. 

The entirety of each subject is captured within the frame and this relates to swimming being an immersive, whole body, experience and also adds a sense of honesty and realness to each portrait; like nothing about the person is hidden. 

What type of lighting did you use and what was the reason for this?

I used only natural light throughout the project and photographed at various times of the day. Additional lighting was never a necessity and I didn't feel the need to glamourise my subjects with it, I also decided against using it to connect to the overall sense of authenticity that I was aiming for.

What do you want the viewer to gain from the project?

I wanted the viewer to share in my interest for people and also for swimming. The project is also a response to the resurgence in popularity in open water swimming in the U.K that has been happening over recent years, although it is rapidly growing in popularity it still seems that the typical British response to swimming in open water is; "Isn't it cold?" so I thought it would be interesting to bring together portraiture from the current open water swimming scene in the U.K and display it along side the portraits of traditional Finnish ice swimmers who have been taking to the water in more or less the same way for thousands of years.

What are your plans for the future?

Now that I have finished my studies I have returned to teaching swimming, this gives me plenty of time to continue to work and develop personal projects as well as working as a photographers assistant and taking on small commercial jobs of my own. In November I will be exhibiting my work in Brighton at the Crane Kalman gallery alongside other photography graduates. 

I also have my sights set on an internship at an advertising agency that I will be applying for, as well as other jobs and internships, early next year. 

What is the best piece of advice you could give a student of photography?

My advice would be to get out and go to galleries, museums and exhibitions, go see as much work as you can because you don't get inspired sitting at a desk!


All images copyright of Daniel Lickley



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