Interview by Raina Talley
How did the transition into creating erotic art feel at first versus how it feels now? Were there ever any times that you felt you had limits to push?
I don’t really consider what I shoot as being erotic to be honest. I don’t actually like to classify myself into a genre at all. If pressed I would say that my genres are fashion and art.
On my personal projects the subjects that I am most interested in exploring is love,friendship and theempowerment of women. While I do shoot some concepts that are sometimes sexual in nature it is more about exploring the idea that a woman should be able to be a sexual being and still be respected as a person. There is a lot of pressure in society for a women to behave in a certain way in order to have respect, but to me every person should be free to love who they want and do what they want especially behind closed doors without it negatively impacting on their lives. At the end of the day without sex literally none of us would be here, it is such a natural expression of what it is to be human, we all crave physical contact and are attracted to one another but at some point society has decided that our own bodies and feelings are something to be ashamed of.
For me the initial transition into shooting concepts like these was accidental, it came about because I was trying to challenge myself as a photographer. I first wanted to shoot some “fine art” nudes as it seemed like something that was missing from my portfolio, however after doing one shoot in this style I didn’t like the outcome at all. The shots were nice however it didn’t show the woman that I was getting to know on the shoot in the way that I saw her. After that I decided that I wanted to learn how to shoot a woman in a way that showed her as powerful and in control of her own body but still herself (or whoever she felt like being that day). I found this quite challenging at first and it took me several shoots to find a style to do this in a way that I was proud of. The biggest challenge that I faced was finding a way to shoot someone in a way that showed such vulnerability but power at the same time as well as making it aesthetically pleasing and an image that the subject would also be proud of.
The subjects that I am most interested in exploring is love, friendship and the empowerment of women
These days the limits that I feel that I have to push is to share more of myself in my work, I already share quite openly in my work how the people that I am working with make me feel or how how I see them and I have been getting better at enabling people to be comfortable enough to share a lot of themselves with me but I realised that I was hiding a little bit behind the camera. At the moment I am experimenting a lot with self portraits trying to find a way to include myself in works that I create and figure out how I can document how I feel about myself, my life and my own body / sexuality. It is really quite confronting for me and I have a new found respect for the people that have been so generous to share so much of themselves to help create works that I have made so far.
In your opinion, what has been your most powerful experience as a creator? What emotions did it bring you?
The most powerful thing that I experience time and time again is how open the people that I work with are. I love hearing their stories and views on life, so many people I have worked with have literally changed my life in some way. I am so thankful to share these moments with people. I actually look at my body of work more as a collection of memories of these moments first and foremost and art works second. I am truly humbled by the amount of people that have put their trust in me
What is one hilarious memory you can think of from growing up?
Honestly I think I’m doing my growing up now as an adult. I was kind of lost as a kid. I didn’t really have anything in common with anyone in my family and I had no idea what I wanted from life even as a teenager (beyond the usual wanting to be a rock star). Everyone that I knew seemed so happy with the idea that they would go through school, choose a course at university and then move into that career. Whereas I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I got great grades in school but never went because I found it boring and I couldn’t see the point on working so hard when it already came easily to me and on top of that I had literally no aspirations to go to university or any idea what kind of career I wanted.
At the time I loved art but had no ability to draw or paint, I was kind of an unhappy kid as a result so I don’t really look back on that time in my life very often. I don’t want to get all depressing and act like I didn’t have a great time as a kid as well but nothing really stands out if that makes sense ? I was so busy trying to figure myself out that all of the rest of it didn’t seem to stick in my memory. I actually feel really happy now about feeling like this when I was younger though because it taught me a lot. The two main things that I learnt was that I don’t have to follow the usual path and also that it is ok to be sad and lost. I learned how to be happy in my sadness which I still carry with me today. I am never scared to feel anything, I love feeling sad from time to time, even extremely heart bracingly so. It remind me that in order to have true happiness in your life you have to also have the other extreme, if you were just happy all of the time then that would just become your new baseline and you wouldn’t really be happy, just “content.” I would much rather be on a roller coaster of emotions and feel everything deeply than just a continual state of contentment. I think that we listen to far too many people telling us that we shouldn’t be sad or scared or whatever other feeling that we have, so we try to push these so called negative emotions down which eventually leads to actual problems. We should never be afraid of how we feel, we should embrace our emotions as these are the things that make us who we are.
I was kind of lost as a kid. I didn’t really have anything in common with anyone in my family
Do you prefer to think of your ideas and concepts ahead of time, or do you go with the flow until your ideas flourish?
I never pre plan an idea. I do have concepts that I have kicking around in my head but I always just wait for the right moment and person to shoot it. The way I look at it is that I haven’t even met the person that I am about to shoot so how can I possibly come up with a concept that they will be perfect for ahead of time? Even if I have shot the person before they are always slightly different every time based on their emotional state, their experiences between the times have seen each other and a myriad of other influences.
I usually come up with ideas on the spot, but even if I try to shoot something that I’ve had in my head for a while I use that as a starting point and then see what journey this person leads me on. I view it similarly to being a producer or director on a movie, you have a script and have set the scene but the actor brings the character to life and I like to make sure that I give them as much creative freedom to do this in their way to keep my work as genuine and natural feeling as possible. Some of the most famous lines in films are ad libbed and the same goes with my shoots. I can’t tell someone how to be them, I want them to show me themselves within an idea that I have.
In what ways has erotic photography helped you express your sexuality and intimacy?
I don’t really resonate with this description of my work. But when it comes to sexuality and intimacy I used to be quite shy when I was younger. Over the last few years something in me has changed and I have become very open and honest about my feelings. I know that exploring myself through the work that I do has really helped with this. I have actually gotten to a point now where I am so comfortable sharing openly almost anything with even compete strangers that it can be a little confronting for some people. So be warned don’t ask me a questions unless you want an honest answer.
What is something you consider fun or special that you treat yourself to every now and then?
The thing that I enjoy the most is getting to know people. Especially people that I already know well. Everyone has so many levels and so many things to share, I love that the more you listen and care the more people will share and over time you get closer and closer to actually knowing them, but at the same time we will never truly know each other 100% as the only way to do that would be if we could somehow live inside their body and see the world through their eyes, experience their emotions and reactions to the things they see and do.
It is what kept me shooting in the first place so I suppose in many ways my job now is my treat.
The more you listen and care the more people will share and over time you get closer and closer to actually knowing them
What has been the most important motivation to you as an artist?
I used to be trying to understand my motivation to create, then one day I just realised that one of the ear marks of a creative is that creating something new is the motivation. We can find other things within our process that drive us from time to time but I view these as topics of exploration rather than motivations. I create because I can’t not create.
What mark do you wish to leave on the world with your work?
In all honesty I’m not really sure. All of my work is so selfish, I create things for myself and while I do hope that others resonate with it. I would be equally happy if I could just create things for the sake of creating things without having to think about how I was going to pay my rent.
I do enjoy helping other artists find their voice and pursue art as a job so I suppose if that keeps happening into the future that would be amazing, I would also like to think that maybe some of the words and works that I share help people to think a little differently on their opinions about their judgement of others for how they chose to live.
My ultimate goal as a living artist is to have just one person at a time resonate with a piece of my work so much that they hang it on a wall in their home. I would much rather see one person that truly appreciates my work than all the likes and comments on Instagram.
Do you have a preferred genre of music? What is your favorite song today?
I usually start the day with some kind of hip hop and by the end of the day I am chilling to Jazz tunes. I don’t really have a favourite song as such. I love music and have always played in bands growing up so I love to listen to different genres and write some songs from time to time.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and what would you do upon arriving?
I have traveled to so many cities over the past 5 years and have fell in love with all of them for some reason or another for example I love New Orleans for the food, atmosphere and I love Jazz music but if I was there I would miss the ocean so long to be somewhere else and if I was on a beautiful beach I would miss London. I suppose I am a bit of a restless soul, I always want something more or to be somewhere else. The only times that this is quiet is when I am surrounded by people that make me happy. To me people will always be more important than places, I look at my close friends as my true home, a true destination to travel to. I suppose if I had to chose a place and what I would do I would like to take someone close to me to a place I know well that they have always wanted to go and show them around. That to me would be the ultimate way to travel.
Lastly, are there any nostalgic moments you can remember when reflecting on your journey as an artist?
I look most fondly on my mistakes (and there have been many), both from a business and creative perspective. Every mistake I have made and have yet to make pushes me further forward.
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Interview by Raina Talley
Website : brianVENTH.com
Instagram : @brianventh