An Interview With: Stan Platford

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Stan Platford, I’m a landscape and architectural photographer based in Manchester. I’m about to graduate from Manchester School of Art with a BA Hons in Photography. I moved here from rural Herefordshire so my interests lie in both rural/urban landscapes and everything in-between. I am also a member of the Manchester based art collective Generic Greeting. We are a large group of artists, musicians, producers and writers working on projects, exhibitions, and club nights in Manchester. 

Since developing my practice via my 3 years of study I now work almost exclusively in film. More specifically medium format. The act of deliberately slowing down my process via the use of tripods and careful composition is the key element of my work. My main interests lie in specific aspects of ‘the everyday’ or the ignored spaces/landscapes that surround us. By shooting these landscapes carefully you put a certain significance and shed light on subject matter that usually goes un-noticed. Finding beauty or visual stimulus from everyday scenes is something I really strive for. 

What is your artist statement for the body of work?

This project explores one aspect of the Everyday in rural and semi-rural landscapes: the visible, physical signs of invisible powers on which we depend, electricity and electro-magnetic waves. In cities these phenomena operate instantaneously in ways that can seem almost magical, but the sources of technology that allow unprecedented convenience, knowledge and communication are obsolete, dirty, dangerous and aesthetically unpopular - or simply need large empty spaces for their structures and security. They tend to be out of sight and out of mind, often in deprived rural areas in desperate need of jobs. This series aims to document those structures and areas via a mostly traditionally landscape approach.

What made your pick this subject matter?

I often feel it’s important for my photography to have a purpose or to be topical. The way we consume energy and how we receive the benefits of communication based technology rarely seems to be thought about in our day to day lives. The city’s where we consume the vast majority of these resources often have little evidence of how they were created or transported to us. This project aims to document the visible sources of power and communication, namely, power stations, communication towers, electrical pylons and satellites.

Where do your main influences come from?

Originally I was first introduced to this area of landscape photography via Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Robert’s book ‘Edgelands. It was the first text which I read which introduced this idea of the everyday and the mundane being a valid subject matter for photography. I also visited the Barbican’s Constructing Worlds exhibition a few years back. The work in that show was like nothing I’d seen before, I really became intrigued by the work of Thomas Struth and Simon Norfolk after seeing their prints. I always keep that exhibition in mind when creating my work. 

How did you choose what locations to use?

Half my locations I found simply via walking. I’d often set out in likely areas and stumble across something great. However, both Dungeness, Aberthaw Power and Jodrell Bank satellite station I found through online research. Often these areas are not technically open to the public so you have to work out what sites are most suitable! 

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

I want viewers to experience the feelings that you have when you first see these structures in what may otherwise seem to be a "traditional" rural or coastal landscape. I want to convey the experience of thinking "What's that?" as well as documenting the often dominating surrounding landscape. 

What are your plans for the future?

Many of the projects I engaged in throughout university are by no means completed. I want to continue producing images for these projects for years to come. I am keen to continue producing books for my work also, with hope that these will make it to a wider audience in the near future. I want to begin engaging with architectural photography further. I’d love to work commercially in that field, this is something I’ll be working on this year! 

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

The years that you are in study, no matter what level, you have such amazing resources in the form of the facilities and the staff, use them to the full potential! Attend extra workshops, speak to your tutors as much as you can and appreciate the range of resources you have as a student. Many of these you wont have access to after graduating so make the most of it! But most of all, have fun and enjoy developing your practice!


All images copyright of Stan Platford.


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