“I’ve taken photos for pretty much as long as I remember," Basingstoke-based photographer George Muncey tells It’s Nice That. “I’ve always just loved documenting what me and my friends are up to.“
“I spent the last four years bouncing between Basingstoke and London, but the further I get into figuring out what work I truly want to make, the more I realise how little the city [London] that I once believed to be everything I need, actually matters to me.”
George’s series Doughnut City focuses on the cyclical nature of life in his home town of Basingstoke through inner city landscapes and portraits of people he has met whilst making the images, “The [series is] all about cycles, feeling trapped in a commuter town, like you’re stuck, alone and can’t leave to be the person that you want to be,” George explains. “Most people that I know, resort to what they can find within the town, settling for a job here, having a family and living in a cycle of living for the weekend, working a job that you hate.”
In contrast to many photographers who travel further afield or the the bright lights of the city to capture a new scene, what is so interesting about George’s series Doughnut City is his dedication to really sticking with and immersing himself in the town, and having a deep connection to the setting and people of the story he is trying to tell.
The series is set to be exhibited this June at theprintspace, an exhibition being in George’s opinion the perfect way to present this work, “One of the things that I’m particularly interested in with exhibiting the work on a wall for the first time is playing with the layout. I always wanted this work to be my first hardback book, but more recently I’ve realised how everything about the concept lends itself to an exhibition. Having no beginning and no end, just being a loop of prints to walk through just ties everything together perfectly for me.”
“I also am just a strong believer that photography exists best in print, whether it’s in a book or on a wall. So I’m just pretty excited to have physical renditions for everyone to experience instead of small low res versions on a screen,” he continues. “Since I made all of the images with an 8×10 view camera, the photos just have a level of clarity that’s only able to be experienced printed large, and I can’t wait to give people the proper time to be able to experience the more fine details and nuances.”So when it’s not immersing himself in his hometown of Basingstoke, what sparks George to pick up his camera, or start a new body of work?
“I’d like to think that I find most of my inspiration through printed matter, whether it’s magazines, books or exhibitions,” he says. “But being more realistic, it’s likely to come through platforms like Instagram. I like to look at photographers whose work I already love, and then search through who they’re following to create this network of the people who probably inspire the people that inspire me.”
Instagram and immersing himself in the photographic works of others George explains however can be “dangerous”. Like musicians who try not to listen to other artists in their genre (in order to keep their mind clear and free of similar references), his development and inspiration process has gradually become more self-focused “I’ve been trying to create images just for myself, and off my own drive, just to share my own view of the world, and just because I love doing it,” he says thoughtfully.
Most recently, George has been travelling around American suburbia, looking at the ideology of the “American Dream”. Though this series initially was set to be a seminal work for the photographer, the reality brought about a few realisations, “I’ve always fantasised about creating all of my serious work in America as it has been such a large inspiration to me. However since the trip I can’t help but feel like there’s a more important story I can tell in my own country.”
Dedicated to working with film in photography, focusing on analog imagery rather than digital, George has developed a YouTube series and print publication called Negative Feedback. Explaining the platform as a means to “help people who are new to film photography, learn about all different aspects of photography in a more relaxed, fun and stylish way than listening to a lecture or old fashioned informational video.”
Since the platform’s inception two years ago the project has developed to now publish a print magazine of work made by the Negative Feedback community and has also seen George curate an exhibition of the community’s work.
By no means on any form of metaphorical analog high horse, the photographer is “a firm believer in cameras for purpose, and purely judging imagery based upon results and not mediums. Contrary to what some people may actually think, I believe digital to be preferable for lots of situations, just my purposes right now don’t align with that.”
It’s perhaps fitting then, with this affinity to precision and the slowness of analog that George has published four zines, considering that “in this incredibly digital age […] it’s really important to try and encourage people to print their work, and consume other photography in physical forms. Whether it’s the tangible physical nature itself, or the freedom of design and layout. There’s so much you can do to influence how your story is told.”
Conversely, then, how does George feel about how we consume images digitally? “Personally, I scroll through Instagram so whimsically, and never give images the time they deserve. But with books and zines, you naturally invest yourself so much more,” he concludes.
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