Megan Dalton uses photography “to hold a mirror to my personal relationships and feelings”

The photographer describes her chosen medium as “a form of therapy,” allowing her to reflect on her own experiences and memories.

Date
25 September 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

The lockdown earlier this year presented many new challenges, including when it came to creative inspiration. With days merging into one another, it was hard to differentiate a Monday from a Thursday, let alone search for that spark of imagination that might lead somewhere productive. Megan Dalton, a photographer currently based in Leeds – who was also part of our Graduates showcase – managed to combat this sense of stagnation with one simple shift in attitude. “I have found myself having to take inspiration from the everyday,” she says. “I’ve been appreciating the beauty of the mundane.”

Alongside this shift in focus, Megan finds the joy in things that are relatable, especially through photographs of forgotten objects and scenes. This is the focus point of her upcoming body of personal work – a series that examines what it means to “be at home with yourself”, set to be published by Sicky Magazine in October. But this attention to the finer details has also been present in a whole bunch of other works, including her ongoing project For Me and You.

Within this series, Megan views photography as a remedial tool. Throughout this eloquently composed set of images, the photographer proves that you can in fact use art to confront past experiences. “I have used photography as a form of therapy to hold a mirror to my personal relationships and feelings surrounding men,” she explains. “In return, this expression of vulnerability was met from the men the other side of my lens.” The series’ aim is to provide commentary on performative gender roles, achieved through a collection of portraits and still-life shots depicting the many forms of masculinity.

“From my research, I noticed that pop culture often reduces the performative to the idea that gender is a social construct; this sets the ‘social’ against the ‘natural’ and implies that gender is an artificial layer,” says Megan. “Performative gender roles are created by the repetition or re-creation of what’s expected from an individual; gender is not a thing so much as an involuntary process of active and linguistic patterns.”

GalleryMegan Dalton: For Me and You (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

In another project, titled In Absence, Megan turns her attention to her grandad’s archive of photographs spanning 1939 to approximately 1959. The publication also included her own documented response to the archive and to the parting of such a dear family member. “My grandfather was more of a storyteller than a visual communicator; his stories of mischief during his service in the war were never accompanied by photographs, which left my imagination to create a visual narrative from the war films we would watch together,” she recalls.

What’s more, her grandmother would then let Megan pore over her own photo albums, which seemed to fill a few of the empty spaces in her memory. “Before his passing, I asked him to re-tell me these previous moments from his life, recording all the details he could remember,” Megan says, noting how this book is not merely an ode to his life, but also sheds light on imagery from Preston, Lancashire and various spots in Europe that he would travel to between these years.

Through the use of both digital and analogue processes, Megan see her work as a “timeless approach” to documenting that which surrounds her. By using a rich colour palette, a minimalist aesthetic and “graphic sensibilities”, her topics and subject matter tend to vary between fashion and portraiture on the one hand and documentary and fine art on the other. Yet one thing remains the same, and that’s her ability to approach a personal or conceptual story with ease and grandeur.

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Megan Dalton: In Absence (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: In Absence (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: In Absence (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: In Absence (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: In Absence (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: In Absence (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: For the Love of the Game (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: For the Love of the Game (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: Hot House Earth (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: Jake (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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Megan Dalton: Jacob (Copyright © Megan Dalton)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and continued to work with us on a freelance basis. From November 2019 she joined the team again, working with us as a Staff Writer on Mondays and Tuesdays until August 2020.

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