With the subject of her photos focused mostly on everyday people, London College of Communication graduate Hannah Burton immediately draws you to her photos not only through its beautiful aesthetic but the emotions and spontaneity she manages to capture so well with the people she photographs. We spoke to the photographer about her body of work, the do's and don'ts of photography, and some of her favourite galleries in London that inspire her.
"I studied (BA) Photography at LCC University and graduated 3 years ago. I have lived in London ever since working as a photographer. It is hard to pin point one thing, but I remember I would always have my camera on me, I think back then, I almost viewed it as my duty, I believed that if something wasn’t photographed it would be gone forever. I like it’s ability to hold still a moment of time. I shoot with both (digital and film), depending on different clients and budget, however, when I can I'd choose film over digital without a doubt. Before university I hadn’t properly explored film photography, only dabbled a bit in school with black and white. It wasn’t until university when I finally started pursuing film photography. Applying the film photography processes to my projects was when things really started to make sense to me. I love working quietly in the colour darkroom, it slows you down and makes you truly look at what you've shot."
"I find that something within the image has to pierce the surface and make you feel something. A picture that can hold its own regardless of its subject matter."
"It’s almost impossible to describe, it’s more an energy and emotion that one gets from certain photographs. I think the overall form is important, a perfect composition can be the most satisfying thing to look at. I find that something within the image has to pierce the surface and make you feel something. A picture that can hold it’s own regardless of it’s subject matter."
We first discovered Burton's work through her photo series Gascoyne Estate which was shot in East London's Homerton area. "I was living in Homerton at the time and wanted to to document the area. I find Homerton inspiring because it was an area in Hackney that was yet to be deemed as ‘hip and trendy’, it was on the outskirts of all that. The people had an inspiring strength and resilience about them, this was something I wanted to celebrate. There has to be a certain sense of responsibility involved in photographing Estates and I felt too often there is a tendency to deliver a gritty portrayal. This work looks at an estate, Gascoyne Estate from a human angle and celebrates the people that live there."
"When I was in second year I brought myself a Hasselblad 500 c/m, medium format camera which I view as a pivotal moment in the development of my work. As it stands, it is my go-to camera for most of my work. It's an absolute beauty. (My photography) is definitely more spontaneous, I plan as far as generating an idea and sense of what I want to portray, however, for me the fun is in the elements of spontaneity and unpredictability.” What does Burton do when she’s not capturing magic on her camera? We asked the photographer what else she gets up to as well her favourite museums and galleries in London. “I used to play the drums, which I’m quite keen to start doing again and also used to paint and draw but got far to impatient with it. I also love acting and performance, which I feel is something that inspired a lot of my photographic work. I’m interested the the performative nature of photography. I love going to the Tate Britain and viewing the permanent collection, whilst not photography based, seeing the old master portraits with their elegant compositions is always something that inspires me. There are many fantastic photo galleries in London, one of my favourites is the Michael Hoppen Gallery in Chelsea."
Photography has always been and will always be a powerful medium of sending a message or telling a story. With many people dabbling not only into digital but film photography as well, we asked Burton some of the basic do's and don'ts of photography for aspiring photographers out there. "The old classic A-level photograph disaster, a London scene, the bus is the only red in the picture, everything else has been photoshopped to black and white! No! I have been guilty of this in the innocence of my youth. In all honesty it too subjective to put rule on what you must not do - Don’t be an arse perhaps. Sometimes if you overthink and over stress an idea it can paralyse you from producing anything at all. You can only know if it’s any good by simply beginning. This is a quote from one of my all time favourite photographers – William Eggelston; “You can take a good picture of anything. A bad one, too..."