LCC Photography graduate Hannah Burton has spent her three years of undergraduate study working out ways to get as close as possible to her subjects. She’s worn their clothes and camped out in their rooms for shots in which she embodies the subject, trawled east London’s Gascoyne Estate, getting to know its inhabitants as she shoots their pictures and explored her personal relationship with her mother in a series of intensely revealing portraits.
This single-minded, focussed approach to her personal practice stands her in good stead when taking on commissioned pieces, and she turns her lens comfortably to the photographing of musicians, events and even the odd model or two with the same level of familiarity. It’s a talent that made her stand out in this year’s crop of applicants and undoubtedly the reason we chose her to be one of our Graduates. Over to her…
Why or who or what made you go to art school?
It was always either going to be art school or drama school for me. I knew this from a young age. It was all I was ever really good at so I don’t really remember making a decision about it – it just kind of fell into place.
Tell us about your best project
I feel that my degree show work is my best work. Working with my mother was an honour, she was such a brave and giving subject and as the project was about our relationship I felt very close and connected to the images I was making. I learnt a lot from a technical point as well as I printed all my photographs myself in the darkroom and also really enjoyed making the book that accompanied the prints on the wall. It was also the first project where I really felt quite confidently that I was on to something special.
Tell us about your worst
My first project at university was an absolute shambles. I remember feeling very lost with what I wanted to do in general and then deciding to do a project about Brick Lane, which was where I was living in halls. I kept unnecessarily stressing out and my lack of confidence led to lots of little half-hearted attempts because I didn’t have enough conviction to take one idea and persist with it. It was only when I started to relax and settle in that I started to make work I was happy with.
If you could show one person your portfolio, who would it be and why?
If I can count the dead, I think it would have to Diane Arbus. I find myself always referring back to her work. She had such a unique perspective and understanding of people that is communicated through her photographs. I would love to hear what she would make of my portraits.
What was the best moment of your three years at uni (extra curricular included)?
That’s tricky as there’s a number of moments, but actually I definitely remember “having a moment” at my degree show where I was surrounded by my family and friends in front of my work, and I just felt so happy and proud. I guess that might be the best moment – especially being with my mum when she saw the work for the first time, she was such a star!
A lot is changing – would you recommend art school to someone who is considering going?
I think I would recommend it but I also think it’s not crucial and can see it’s rapidly becoming less appealing with the rise in fees. However there aren’t many other places where you’re going to meet like-minded people with tutors knowledgeable and passionate about your chosen subject. You’ll no doubt make friends for life and learn things you otherwise might miss out on, so I think in the end it’s probably worth it.
Finally, if your dreams come true, where will you be in a year’s time?
A year doesn’t seem that far away and at the moment I’m excited about not knowing what the future will bring. The prospect of life without a student loan is scary but hopefully I’ll sort something out and will be able to continue making my own work. I’m looking to get into more commercial projects as well.
Supported by Represent
We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2014 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2014.