FILM & PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOGRAPHY

ALIA HALSTEAD – PHOTOGRAPHER

Alia has an excellent eye for composition, we love her playful style and just had to share some of her work with you!

Alia, tell us a little about you and your photography?

Art movements I am drawn to will probably give you a better insight into me than me attempting to tell you – dadaism, cubism, chindōgu, abstract expressionism, surrealism, intermedia, stuckism…

I try not to define it. It depends on my mood. However, I have noticed certain consistencies in subject-matter: trees; mannequins; anything I find funny; attempting to turn tangibles into abstractions; seeking contrasting textures and layering from reflections.

I do indulge in pondering the psychology behind photography – playing with the idea that you manipulate the subject as soon as you hit the shutter; framing the subject to your perspective. Looking at other photography reinforces that we perceive the world in different ways, and we can learn from each other.

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Film or digital?

I started shooting with my granddad’s old film cameras. I became obsessed with experimenting in the darkroom – I have always enjoyed techniques such as sandwich-printing, photomontage, photograms and polarising. Although nowadays my medium is predominantly digital, I contradict myself regarding editing: as photography is representative rather than truthful, I have no issues with manipulating photos; however, I prefer to use darkroom methodology, so I rarely touch Photoshop. I try to restrain from trigger-happy snapping, and set myself a limit of shots to take for each project.

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How has photography transformed you as a human being? Can you identify any key differences before and after starting photography?

It sounds cheesy, but it is always transforming me. It is one of the ways I can make sense of this absurd world, and allows me to articulate my perspective. It has given me an appreciation of exploration – whether I’m pretending to be a tourist in a familiar place, or purposefully documenting a new environment.

Photography has expanded my sense of humour and creativity; when you are consciously looking for the perfect image, you notice the toy dinosaur lost to the gutter and the CEO watching porn on his laptop. It’s simply fun to imagine stories that accompany the prospective shot.

I’ve been taking photographs for such a long time, I cannot really remember my thought process before, although I’ve

always been a visual thinker. One difference has been the physical presence of the equipment – holding a camera in front of my face makes me feel safe for when the tomatoes are hurling towards me. It’s a good mask.

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Tips for budding photographers?

We all process in different ways, so I suppose it’s good to figure out how you work best. Obviously, take photos and experiment with techniques; analyse what you are drawn to; try to tell a story, have fun, and find the humour of everyday subjects. Go to the library and flick through the photography section. Cut up magazines and play with compositions. Take inspiration from everything – art, poetry, film, music, maths – whatever excites you. It is good to get feedback, but remember it’s subjective; some people obsess over sharpness, whilst others find imperfections existential.

It’s your life, make up your own rules…

… unless you are working for a client. Then listen carefully to their vision for the shoot and manage their expectations; be realistic and explain potential limitations.

What has been your favourite commission and what would be your dream commission?

It depends on my mood.

Maybe not atheistically, however, I have learnt a lot from taking photographs of a wake. I was nervous at first as it felt intrusive taking pictures of people grieving. Luckily I received positive reactions, and even though I did not know the family, I was touched by the speeches and interactions of the guests. Being an event photographer you get a glimpse of other peoples lives, and so far, it has been heartwarming.

My dream commission would be… I’d be invited to Japan… by Bill Murray or someone else who gets away with stealing cooked breakfasts… I’d take promo photos for his action-sci-fi, robot-Godzilla, ninjas-of-love b-movie… Bill would give me a leading role… and lion-shark hybrids would walk on land during blossom season…

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Show us your work space?
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www.aliahalstead.com

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