Daniel Dale talks to us about his project based around the area he lives in the North East of England, Ellipses. Creating a topographic portrait of the North East by looking at the moments in between personal and public space.
Tell us about the Ellipses project. What attracted you to this specific project and how it is different from your other work?
Ellipses was something that just happened. I had been shooting photos with nothing in mind for a few months, exploring different areas other than the city centre (which reflected my work more at the time) and seeing how I reacted to a slightly different topic. A lot of the idea of Ellipses stemmed from my reading into personal identity within philosophy, which is what helped me start to see a larger project forming amongst all these photos I’d been taking. From there I had a bit more of a direction and have since been picking apart the work more directly than before.
My current work came about when I started taking photos with a couple of friends, they preferred built up estates and living spaces compared to myself, who at the time circled city centres exclusively. It was the idea of personal identity within philosophy that got me looking at more of the landscape and the aesthetic of where we reside, which in turn led me to the photographic movement of new topographics. It’s looking at the place where we choose to live, work, and spend leisurely time that interests me and it’s the fact we’re hell bent on expanding and improving that holds my attention.
The project is looking at our (North East) landscape as it is today, where old estates still stand, new estates are being built, and our commercialisation is being updated. I want people to slow down and see what is infront of us, what’s happening now or even what’s staying the same. Considering my photos are ‘quiet’ and subtle, I’d like to think to get the most out of the photo you need to give the time back. Individual photos can be seen in several different contexts and were shot with specific ideas in mind, but as a whole they look at our surrounding area. There is strong emphasis on man made against nature in the work, a relation to the idea of ‘life’ which brings it back to my original thoughts of personal identity, which at it’s core is about life and death. With most projects there are several thought process and ideas that pull the project in certain directions, trying to figure out what I want to convey at the moment is possibly something that I will find in the editing stage rather while still taking pictures.
On a last point this work is much more structured and formal in my eyes, I have a clear idea and a cohesive way of working compared to my other work which became very random and seemed to run without narrative.
What is your favourite and least favourite aspect of this project?
I don’t think I could name anything for either sadly. As you work, if something gets flagged as not the right way to go you change direction, I don’t tend to have a least favourite part cause I wouldn’t linger on a point that was negative, I’d change it. And no doubt in hindsight a favourite part or moment of this project would be possible, but it’s ongoing and so far I can only say I’m enjoying the process as a whole, from actually taking pictures to the research in both photography and film technique.
I’m very interested in the book/zine format so I would like to eventually self publish, or even self publish it in several stages. Apart from that I don’t have a long term aim in mind. The one thing I’m set on is that I don’t want it to just sit online somewhere, photography as a basis should be printed.
My challenges so far have been adjusting my technique of shooting and the developing of my film. There has been a lot more to think about when trying to get the kind of photo I’m looking for and because of that I’ve had to invest some time into relearning everything I know on film developing.
Do you have any plans for your next project?
Finish this project first, take some more photos, hope another project presents itself.
What is your connection to the north east?
I was born and raised in Sunderland, left briefly for a year to Yorkshire, but still ended up back here where I now live in Newcastle.
What is it about the north east that attracts you?
It’s where I’m from and where I still live. It’s almost like I should make something of it photographically wise while I’m still here just in case I eventually get a chance to bugger off.
Have you studied photography or art? If so, where and when?
I studied photography predominantly at Cleveland College of Art and design. Finished my degree in 2013. Before that I had started my degree originally in Huddersfield, but fell out of love with photography a bit and took a year out before going back and studying in Hartlepool.