He’s a member of our Creative Board, one fourth of the mega band Mumford and Sons, and increasingly he is gaining a reputation as a very talented professional photographer. Ted Dwane took some time out of preparing for his first photography exhibition, titled A Show of Faces, to discuss all things making and playing.
The exhibition will take place at the London Newcastle Gallery, 28 Redchurch Street, London, from the 16th – 24th November.
We meet at his East London home. He’s standing at the polished cement island in the centre of his kitchen, surrounded by black containers full of curious smelling liquids. Strung up around the edges of the room are lengths of negatives and direct to paper images.
I recommend we start with some warm up questions, he agrees. This is a man well versed at giving interviews…
RF: What do you eat for breakfast?
TD: Sausages and chocolate
RF: In all your travels, which is your favourite city (outside London)?
RF: What makes you laugh?
TD: Monty Python and my friend Winston.
RF: If you could have any superpower what would it be?
RF: If there’s one thing you could tell your younger self what would it be?
TD: Everything’s gonna be OK.
RF: What are you reading at the moment?
TD: Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie.
RF: What are you up to at the moment?
TD: Right now I’m preparing for an exhibition that I’ve got at the Londonewcastle Space on Redchurch Street next month. So I’m making portraits. I’ve got my little home dark room going on here so I’m developing some rolls that I shot today for what I hope is going to be a central piece to the exhibition.
RF: What exactly is a ‘home darkroom’?
TD: You know, just chemicals, a bit of gear, nothing flashy. I like to keep it analogue, real film. In the exhibition we’re going to be taking it back even further, creating large portraits direct to positive and hanging them in the space as they’re made.
RF: Wow, so a live exhibition?
RF: Why are you interested in showing the process?
TD: Well, for me the photographic process itself is one of great intrigue and excitement. Seeing images come forth, the process of making them, being directly engaged with the medium, is a really rewarding thing. I want to share that. People will come in (to the exhibition) and there’ll be the smell of the fixative, and there’ll be these wet portraits hanging. You’ll be able to see the camera, which is this huge thing. It will hopefully engage people with the whole process.
RF: Why do you think that’s important?
TD: It’s not really, its just sort of fun.
RF: People may know you as Ted Dwane the musician, has the photography come recently? How does the photography sit with your music?
TD: I’ve been doing it a very long time. My Uncle’s a pro and my Mum (his sister) has always received his hand-me-down gear. So there’ve always been cameras around, and I got into it quite early on. I think the band’s been a catalyst. Travelling so much you naturally want to take photos. My photography is widely focused on people, portraiture, and obviously on the road you’re surrounded by people; you build bonds, there’s always interesting people to take pictures of. I’ve got a little dark room on the road with me as well, I develop as I go.
In my time off it’s been a wonderful distraction. It’s a creative and expressive thing but it’s a long way from Mumford and Sons. After having been stared at by so many people it’s nice to flip it. I’ll do the staring for once.
RF: Do you consider photography a solitary thing?
TD: I do actually, yeah. But I think with all creative things, not just creative, all things, collaboration is such a wonderful thing. I realised that the way I structure my portraiture shoots is quite influenced by my Psychology degree. It just serves to show that spreading the skill, or knowledge set, or doing different things, you can create something quite new and quite interesting. Portraiture is naturally focused on faces and people. Structuring a portrait shoot like a psychological experiment deepens your engagement with the person you’re taking a photo of.
RF: You studied Psychology at university, how do you feel that influences your photography?
TD: Well, when we did Interrupted Portraiture…
RF: Give us some background on that…
TD: It was a really fun thing. The Reubens (Reuben Feels) got involved and created this distraction. I wanted to break down that really awkward thing of sitting in front of a camera, the photographer-sitter dynamic. People always sit down and try and give you their best side and it’s bullshit. So to have a distraction, in this case a couple who appear two or three frames into a role of 120 film, they appear from behind me and the person sitting is seeing the whole thing and reacts. So you get these wonderful expressions of awkward, generally quite humorous responses. Suddenly the camera isn’t the most important thing in the room, there’s something happening. I love that.
RF: What inspires you as a photographer?
TD: I’m inspired by a lot of other photographers. I find photography a really engaging medium. You know, it’s a moment, its great to be able to examine something like that. I think the street photography thing is awesome. Just people taking pictures of people, no light, no studio element, it’s just people doing their daily stuff and people capturing it. You get lovely shots of people in private moments and it’s real. That has fed into my fascination with photography. But I do enjoy having slightly more control and getting higher quality images. But looking for that real human moment, encouraging a vibe that isn’t too studio, and encouraging people to come out of themselves.
We all have our theories and feeling towards the world and then we try and express ourselves, our theory of the world, through whatever it is we do. Music is obviously a huge thing for me but equally photography is. I feel its very important to express yourself and share your idea of the world…. So that, that’s nice
RF: Tell us the dates of you exhibition again…
TD: We’ll be open on the 15th November, every day until the 24th except Mondays and Tuesdays. Midday-6pm.
RF: Great, and this is another collaboration with Reuben Feels?
TD: Yes, yes it is. Reuben’s been enlisted with the task of trying to engage people with themselves. By the time people come to sit for the picture they’ll have been asked a series of questions and delivered to the camera after having a little journey, maybe of introspection, a little check in, so when they arrive they’re wearing some of their life experience. We’re going to make 10 portraits a day for ten days , hopefully they’ll have a real soul, a real vibe, celebrate the individual and take a photo that gathers as much of them as the lense can take. Reuben’s the arms and feet of the exchange.