We are delighted to announce that photographer Phil Le Gal has joined the MAP6 collective!. Phil will be joining us on our new collaborative project in the Shetlands next month. We got the chance to quiz him about his work and future plans.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Photography?
Firstly I guess my dad had a strong influence on how I got into photography. I remember thinking the world looked better through the viewfinder of his camera. Following a career in engineering I moved to London and later enrolled in several short courses at London Central Saint-Martins, which eventually led me to a foundation degree in Photography. This was when I discovered documentary photography as a genre, the power of narratives and story illustration from sequencing a set of photographs. I went on and applied for a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the London College of Communication, UAL and graduated in 2014.
Who are your influences and can you tell us about any inspiring books or exhibitions you have seen recently?
Aside of my paternal influence many photographers have shaped my visual education. I have been mostly sensitive to colour American photography (Saul Leiter/Stephen Shore/William Eggleston/Joel Meyerowitz) and their British counterparts Paul Graham and Tom Wood. I admire the research work of Taryn Simon, the quirky subject matter of Alec Soth and the stunning portraiture of Nadav Kander and Anastasia Taylor Lind, Rob Hornstra’s exemplary long-term documentary projects and Edward Burtynsky's take on globalisation. The New Topographics movement and the concept of "man-altered landscape" depiction is also of importance to me. I am based in London and visit photographic exhibitions on a regular basis. Londoners are spoiled for choice really. Last month I visited Simon Roberts' Merrie Albion, Andreas Gursky's retrospective and the stunningly beautiful "The East End in Colour 1960-1980" exhibitions.
Can you tell us a bit about your work, significant projects and favourite moments in photography.
My final project for my MA allowed me to reconnect with my home region of Brittany that I had left 13 years before. The project was well received and went on to be published in the British Journal of Photography in their best of graduates of the year dossier. I was also already working on a long-term project related to European borders when the 2015-2016 so called European refugee crisis took place. This was really a defining moment for me as I witnessed history unfolding before my eyes. This also reminded me of the importance of the ethics in photojournalism and documentary photography,
Can you tell us a little bit about Photoscratch?
Photo Scratch was born following my graduation in MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography in 2014. With my friend and fellow student Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz we realised there was room to create a platform to facilitate constructive feedback -similar to our MA tutorials- for work in progress of documentary projects. Most creative individuals are going through this phase of obtaining feedback from trusted peers when producing work. We facilitate this exchange and it is also free to participate. We created Photo Scratch and ran our first session in January 2016. In the last 2 years almost 200 Documentary photographers obtained feedback from their work in progress projects at Photo Scratch, which is a massive achievement, we are really proud of. Photo Scratch is going on strong, every other month, and you can follow us at https://photoscratch.org.
What first drew you to MAP6?
I found out about MAP6 back in 2014 when both of our groups MAP6 and my group Where We Stand were exhibiting at the Brighton Photo Fringe’s collectives show. The concept of going somewhere no one from the collective has previously been before to document this new environment, each photographer with its own specific angle, really appealed to me. I think the Dala Lamai may have said “once a year go someplace you've never been before”. This really is it!
What is coming up next for you in terms of projects and work?
2018 is another year of important life changes for me. Yet I have planned to return to Ireland and Northern Ireland to carry on the long-term documentary work about the consequences of Brexit on the border of the 2 countries. I am also aiming to complete another chapter of my long-term project documenting the evolution of the European borders focused on the Schengen space. I have many projects in my head but not enough time! And of course joining the MAP6 collective to go to the Shetlands will be a highlight of this year!