Every week I’ve been introducing you to another member of Cork Analogue Photographers. This week I’d like to introduce you to Pádraig Spillane who takes beautiful portraits and is the other half of Stag & Deer. Feel free to say hello & introduce yourself in the comments below, we’d love to meet you!
Name: Padraig Spillane
Where are you from? I was born and raised in Cork. I studied philosophy in Dublin a few years ago and then moved back to Cork where almost by accident I started my photographic trip.
What cameras do you use? Canon EOS 300, Canon PowerShot A520, Canon EOS 400 D, Hasselblad 500 C/M, my Nokia 3.2 mega pixel camera on my mobile phone.
What was your very first camera? Canon PowerShot A520
Tell me a little about how you got into photography? I kinda fell into photography. After I finished my studies in philosophy I was taking some time off and I was falling in to a routine that I wanted to get out off. I went to Barcelona for a holiday and bought a little Canon digital camera with me and took some pics. When I came back my friends were saying that they were pretty cool and that maybe I should do a course. I enrolled in Crawford College of Art and Design’s photography night course under Roseanne Lynch. It was a purely black and white course based in analogue photography. I was always interested in how things looked like ads, magazines and layouts. I used to make a lot of collages for fun when I was a teenager. Kinda funny irreverent stuff for friends. I was always into reading about art and if I liked something I followed it up and bought a book or whatever. Anyway, I started taking photos of objects or lights/lighting that I liked. My main rush was taking portraits of people. At the end of the photography course year, to my utter surprise (Really it was. I went the colour of Ribena. No faux cheerleader type stuff. Utter shock) I received “The Most Promising Student of the Year Award”. So, from there I’ve been trying to carve a future with photography.
Why choose analogue photography? Well, it is what I’m trained in first and foremost. The “magic” that happens when you print your own photos from film is really special. The attention you pay in the darkroom while printing and then seeing the image become visible in the wet dishes does something to the brain. There is a certain charm. There is also a certain feeling to analogue shots especially in black and white. However, while saying all that I do use digital and that offers something different, immediacy and the room for manipulation is obviously massive. When all is said and done in the digital versus analogue wars, beyond all questions of what processes are used, the image is what counts most. What the image unveils to the viewer is the important thing. Photographers, artists and people who look at art share an inquisitiveness about what an image or a work of art can say about life’s mysteries.
What are your influences and who are some of your favourite photographers? I like things that offer an intimacy which is something I want to capture in my own work. Intimacy is obviously a word with a loaded meaning as well as one that can be quite vague and have a high catchment for work that can be quite unrelated.This thrills me. The work that I’m drawn to has a sense that you are seeing something for the first time. That you are really there at a moment of trust. A big influence has been the the work of Emmanuel Levinas and the way we recognise each other through how we look at one another. What exactly are we trying to find in a person especially through an image of them? What does the image demand of us?
My favorite photographers may or may not directly impact on what my work actually looks like. However, it’s their outlook and there vision that I admire. Wolfgang Tillmans, Irving Penn, Larry Fink, Youssef Nabil, Arron Siskind, Willy Vanderparee, Daniel Reida, Mitch Epstein to name a few. What has made a huge impact on me was my teenage dedication to magazines like The Face, i-D and Dazed and Confused. For a small town boy it opened up the world through images and discussion. That continues to this day with i-D and Fantastic Man. I am a magazine junkie.
What would your dream photography day be like? Who/what/where would you shoot? Now, I’m not saying life is perfect. However, I am very lucky to have a ”family” of friends and collaborators who I take portraits off and work with. Without them and their curiosity and willingness to pose and work with me I would be nowhere. So, my dream would be to continue working with the close knit group of muses I have.
If you want me to daydream then I would have to say I would love to see Irving Penn working on a shoot or be locked in a room with Liberty Ross and only a camera, no fancy lights or make up [I think she is amazing and she always seems up for different things that other models wouldn’t dream of.] Or have a fantasy dinner party with all the artists I admire like Wolfgang Tillmans, Perdro Almodóvar, Gillian Wearing, Irving Penn, P.J. Harvey, Michael Cunningham, Claude Cahun, Juan Muñoz, some peeps from the previous answer. I’d probably feel a bit self-conscious but I’ d say it would be a blast. A headwreck but a blast.