Who doesn’t love a good nosey around someone else’s house? A peek into a stranger, celebrity or friend’s personal space in the hope it will reveal something previously unknown about them? London-based photographer – and It’s Nice That Graduate 2017 – Maxwell Granger is the first to admit he can’t get enough. “I’ve always, always, always loved family photography, either by great amazing photographers or just insane shit on Flickr,” he tells It’s Nice That, “I have always loved seeing people’s houses – and how they work with such a (usually) shit space in London,” he adds. As a result, Maxwell has spent the last months photographing his friends in their flats and houses across the capital.
The series began at the end of 2017 when Maxwell found himself “at a loose end with shooting a lot of stuff I wasn’t wholly interested in,” he explains, “so I just forced myself to work out exactly what I felt would be a really fun project, and that’s how it came about.” Beginning with five or six friends, the series rapidly grew and now stands at around 300 portraits of 40 people.
From couples lounging on sofas to friends playing video games, each portrait is revealing and intimate, largely down to the serendipitous nature in which they were taken. “I basically just waltzed into the houses of a lot of my friends without real warning and announced that I’d be shooting said person and that was that,” Maxwell recalls. The series offers more than others of its kind, however; there is an underlying irony to several of the images – a regular aspect of Maxwell’s work and the result of his astute eye and humour. In one photo, a cat poses, ready to jump off the counter, surrounded by images of kittens but also accompanied by a set of knives and an oven. In another, a young man grins back at the camera, tie in hand, while Christian Bale’s famous (deranged) grin from American Psycho looms behind him on the wall.
In terms of what the series “says”, Maxwell responds, “Oh, nothing really to be honest with you” although “the variety of people and places in the photos is maybe enough to give it something to admire”. Perhaps not a series that will resonate with everyone, it’s one that was significant for Maxwell as a photographer. “I think it’s important to keep track – not even just for me but because there are some people in there who are already insanely talented and successful and will go on to reach immeasurable levels of success. So, having something that holds them in that one time in a homogenous style makes them feel like a graduating class photo, and gives them real virtue and value to me!”
A graduating class is exactly what this series represents. Whether the people in the photographs are known to you or not, they do offer a unique perspective. They are an observation of young Londoners at an age where they are settled but still finding their feet. Many of them working, yet still unable to afford anything much bigger than a shoebox, their guitars and clothes crammed into every available corner. What’s more, they expose the comforts and familiarity of friendships, and how this can be utilised by a photographer to create authentic and personal portraits.
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