Please introduce yourself: What is your name, where are you from, what do you do?
Hello. My name is Eddy Lambert. I’m from Oxford in the south of England. I work for a humanitarian charity making and managing web and mobile apps.
What is your relationship with photography? How did you get into it and what keeps you interested or motivated?
I have always loved to take photos. As a child I would be the one clicking away on the family Kodak — always happier behind the lens than in front of it, pestering my parents to let me take just one more photo.
I’m in my forties now and have boxes full of prints and negatives and hard drives full of jpegs. Over the years my relationship with photography has stayed the same in many ways but changed a lot in others. One thing that’s stayed the same is that I prefer to include photography in the flow of my daily life rather than organizing my life around it - I rarely go on special photo trips for instance. I like to have a camera with me wherever I go and am sure that this subtly changes the way I see the world — the attention I pay to it.
As a teenager this meant recording parties and hangouts, more recently the day to day realities of family life, in-between and always I've loved to photograph the landscapes and city scenes I pass to and from work and on holidays. As someone who has always liked to draw and paint but also to program computers and tinker with machines, perhaps photography appeals because it combines those two worlds of art and science so perfectly. And I do love cameras in of themselves — as objects — especially old mechanical film cameras with their intricate mechanics and beautiful designs and arcane technical details; that is as true now as it was when I was 10.
Ultimately though, and throughout it all, perhaps the most important constant has been the pleasure I get from sharing my photos with others. Whether snapshot mementos of times together, or albums and books for those closest to me, or more recently on social media — it is through sharing that images come alive.
Apart from the endless inspiration I find in books and exhibitions (and a few days of photography class at school) I’m entirely self taught; or rather, entirely indebted to my photographer friends and acquaintances who have shared tips and ideas over the years. I am an amateur, but hopefully a curious one. Because the underlying subject matter of my photography is largely unplanned I tend to be quite deliberate in my approach to the making of pictures.
In some cases this means rapid and concentrated shooting of a particular place with selection happening much later, at other times a more thematic approach based on particular shapes, colours or moods. Sometimes these don’t cohere until an amount of time has passed sometimes they’ll emerge as I go. Those occasions when visual connections seem to appear from nowhere in real-time can feel almost magical.
I was an early adopter of digital cameras, starting with early digital compacts in the mid nineties. But in the last few years I’ve moved back to analog in a big way. I now shoot about 80% on film and it is film photography that I share online. There are endless debates about the relative benefits of different mediums and equipment but the move back to film combined with the explosion of social media has definitely re-energized my photography.
Looking back, the thing I loved most about digital at first, the certainty and ability to review and revise, was the very thing that, in the end, didn’t suit me. I need more surprises, more informed luck, perhaps more constraint to fully involve myself in my photography.
I’m inspired on a daily basis by the extraordinary photographic community on Instagram. I think we’re in a golden age of photographic publishing as well, particularly small zines and niche books from emerging publishers. Overall the increasing diversity in the photographic world online is exciting and positive I think. Especially among amateurs. More women, more young people, photographers from a wider range of cultural backgrounds — it is all leading to greater variety and deeper pool of experience behind the images we see. There is also more experimentation and much, much less emphasis on boring test charts and discussion about technical detail I think.
Just compare an Instagram feed like @back2thebase with old photography magazines and their endless repetition of the same old hyper-technical but cliched work. Cameraphones, clever compacts, DSLRs that can shoot in near-darkness along with the rediscovery of older equipment and film seem to be leading to a much more creative and expressive community than the narrow world I grew up in — I feel lucky to be around to enjoy it all.
What are you currently working on, and — if there is — what is your next project or journey?
I’m currently carrying around a really nice Minolta compact camera from the mid-nineties in my day bag, snapping around Oxford and on work trips. As winter draws in I’m likely to move to black and white film with a little more emphasis on the fine detail of the city around me — this is something I’ve neglected a little in my work over the last few years, erring more towards wider scenes. After a summer of landscapes I’m quite looking forward to getting up close in the city.
I’m also working on a longer term loosely themed series of studies of building materials, rural and urban — in Britain we are blessed with fascinating and diverse geology and the a long history of vernacular and mass scale industrial production — these photos may one day make their way into an annotated book.
Thank you Eddy!
Thanks Alexandre for asking me to write for this brilliant site and for asking such interesting questions — it was fun to think about my work and motivations. I love to chat about photography and discover pictures from fellow photographers so please do drop by and say hello on Instagram, my feed is at @expectgrain.
© Eddy Lambert