Late Night Stories – by Ed Wight
Earlier last month, we discovered the work of artist Ed Wright, whose moody black and white portraits truly captivated us. Ed is a journalist from the U.K. who is now living in Poland on assignment. The portraits in this series have a deep, holographic quality the resonates well past the aesthetics into the inner emotions of the subjects themselves against the stark backdrop of the night. Although the subjects throughout the series are not one and the same, it is immediately obvious that all these girls in different places and different times are united through the photographer’s vision into one story with various multi-faceted lives. There is a sense of intimacy and immediacy that could be felt from each and every one of the photos in this series. When we pause for just a short moment, we can feel as though we are in the photos themselves, right there with the subjects.
We had the opportunity to talk to Ed for this exclusive editorial feature to get a glimpse into the visionary behind these beautiful photos and some of his inspiration and influences as an artist. See the conversation after the images below.
Shrill Cats: Thanks for taking the time to join us today!
Ed: My pleasure!
Shrill Cats: Just to start off then, could you talk a little bit about yourself and how you became a photographer?
Ed: I’m a journalist working as a foreign correspondent for a U.K. newspaper. My journey into photography began when I was a teenager and my father, who was an excellent amateur photographer, bought me an old analogue camera. I then got sidetracked by work and life but returned to photography about 5 years ago. I guess I got back into it because I wanted to start telling stories through the medium of photography rather than words.
Shrill Cats: There is definitely a feeling of a photo journal in your photography. The pictures with different subjects all somehow seem to weave together into a singular story or a series of inter-related short stories. What type of influence and inspiration do you draw into your photography from being a journalist?
Ed: Wow, that’s a big question. Let me think for a moment.
My influences are many. One of them is art – my parents had many great works throughout our house and those that impressed me most were and still are Edward Hopper and Caravaggio. With the former it’s about the bleak loneliness of being, with the latter the use of light. So I try and capture both of those in my photos. But I also want to capture a story, real or imagined. Most of my photos show people at the end of a night out, solitary and in partial darkness. So my inspiration is people’s lives. Too many photos show the plight of the homeless, unemployed, etc., but not many show the loneliness of being young and alone. So, I try and capture that.
Shrill Cats: Edward Hopper is a great inspiration. I am also a big fan of his work and can see elements of it in your photography too. The darkness and solitude that you speak of is both beautiful and haunting. It is perhaps this duality, combined with the stark film noir aesthetic in your photos that gives it a very special quality with the beautifully lit subjects enveloped in almost total darkness. Very nice indeed.
Ed: Thank you.
Shrill Cats: Do you try to tell the story of the particular subjects you are shooting with, or would you say that the narratives are those that emerge from your own experiences and narratives?
Ed: I would say that the narratives emerge from the moment. They story is not pre-prescribed or written, it comes from the subject and the time and place.
Shrill Cats: That is very impressive. Many times, photographers are able to take great photos but far fewer are able to create coherent stories with them. How do you ensure that your photos embody the narrative which carries through your many subjects?
Ed: In a word, luck. I take lots of photos but only a few of them make the mark.
Shrill Cats: Luck for sure has a role, but that still speaks to your excellent eye as a photographer to tell the story!
What are some of the most memorable moments in your photographic journey? This is always a fun question.
Ed: Crikey! That is another big one! Let me think for a moment.
Shrill Cats: Of course!
Ed: Also, going back to the first question, I should perhaps add that I’m British and based in Poland.
Shrill Cats: It’s no wonder that your English is very good indeed!
Ed: With that last question, what do you mean exactly? Some of the most memorable photos I’ve taken, or some of the most memorable moments in my understanding of photography?
Shrill Cats: I gues some of the most memorable moments while capturing photos with your subjects.
Ed: A few. The most memorable was a girl who had just been dumped by her boyfriend. She sat at the bar in tears, sad and alone. Another was one of my first, a girl in a café. I didn’t know her story but saw her sitting at a table with Warsaw’s Palace of Culture reflected in the window. She was midway between drinking her coffee. It’s memorable because, as I mentioned, it was one of my first “street portrait” shots.
Shrill Cats: The girl at the bar sounds like a very genuinely emotional shoot. I believe I know which coffee photo you are referring to! Do you often meet your models through everyday encounters?
Ed: Yes, I meet them in bars and cafes. Mainly bars.
Ed: That doesn’t sound good! But true.
Shrill Cats: No, that sounds fine! Haha. There are of course modelling agencies, but the models they represent may not be the best subjects sometimes, are too commercial, etc.
Ed: Yes, the girls I photograph are mainly students. None of them are with agencies or professional models.
Shrill Cats: Ok, just a few more questions for today! What equipment do you shoot with? Are you happy with these tools?
Ed: I shoot with Nikon – D4 and Df. My preferred lens are 50mm 1.4 and 24-70mm 2.8. I love them!
Shrill Cats: Great choices, and that Df is a nice retro looking camera!
Ed: I love it. A lot of my friends who are pro photographers, paparazzi, etc., hate it, but I think it’s great.
Shrill Cats: It’s a baby D4 and looks like an analogue camera 🙂 Now, looking at the world of photography, what improvements would you like to see? This could be with regards to any aspect of photography, from the cameras to the community, to the way that photography is done.
Ed: Another huge question. And I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment 🙂 But, personally I’d like to see less horrendous HDR, less photoshopping of faces – I don’t and can’t use photoshop – and a return to more natural photography.
Shrill Cats: I agree with the HDR and excessive photoshopping, particularly when photographers use these or other techniques to try to introduce some interest into the photos. However, a lot of the time the extra processing or effects will not turn an ordinary photo into something extraordinary! It definitely melts my brain sometimes.
Ed: Yes, of course post-processing is necessary, but so many photos are too over processed in my opinion. I like more natural captures.
Shrill Cats: I also love natural captures as well. It’s just a lot more pleasing to my eyes. I view it as a type of truth in photography. Just the right amount of milk in sugar in the tea!
Shrill Cats: Thank you for your time today, and once again, welcome to the Shrill Cats family!
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