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Photo essay Documentary


Dungeness is a headland on the coast of Kent, England. It's an in-between landscape with a nuclear Power Station and an ecological site at the same location. Matt Williams saw an uneasiness and liminality he explored in his photo project.

Can you tell a bit about your background (as a photographer)

I’ve been an artist and designer all my life and I’m currently a partner & Creative Director of a graphic design agency. I’ve always been around photography through art college and work but hadn’t ever really tried to make images myself. A couple of years ago I realised that my graphic design work heavily relied on my own personal taste and knack for image selection and usage. I thought that maybe, having a finely tuned eye might give me a really good start if I picked up a camera. And I haven't put it down since.

What kind of pictures do you take and why?

I have two projects running at the moment – Other Signs & Seen in Leigh. Other Signs is really a personal project that has two criteria – Is the image uncomfortable and is it beautiful. I’m really trying to be as experimental as I can within that so the subject matter can be very varied. Alongside that, I’m still learning how to take photos technically while developing my own aesthetic. I suppose it sits mostly within the sphere of ’New Topographic’ and/or liminal photography. It can be quite minimal but I generally aim to include evidence of human influence in the image to add layers. Mostly, its just recording the things that I see that happen to excite me visually or emotionally – that create an atmosphere from the ordinary that appeals to me.

The Seen in Leigh project is really a practical solution to my day to day life. Most of us live within small areas with fairly mundane routines and I wanted to turn that to my advantage. The only real time I get to shoot is on my 2 mile walk to work or during my lunch break so I need to find a project that fitted with that. It’s really just a street documentation thing of the area. Im just finding my feet with it – street photography in a small town has interesting challenges. I am slowly getting a definite aesthetic for it but I’m just interested in how it will develop.

Can you tell me a bit more about the project?

The Dungeness project was really my first attempt at a ‘project’. The place itself is unlike anywhere I’ve visited and fits perfectly with the aesthetic of uneasiness and liminality that i wanted to explore. I wanted to document the emptiness and isolation of the space, the strangeness of the human history and structures there.

Who is your photography hero and why?

That’s difficult! The first photographer I fell in love with was Jeff Wall. It was the first time I’d seen photography that I could really understand as ‘art’. All of the 'new topographic’ originals are great but Stephen Shore is the standout for me – probably because he shot in colour (I have an aversion to black and white photography!). I love his shots that are very much on the edge of feeling uncomposed. To be honest, I’m more interested in images than who took them but anyone who is out there making photos should be revered.

© Pictures by Matt williams