Daniel Keys is a photographic artist based in London whose work concentrates on conceptual readings of tableau, landscape and portraiture exploring themes of suburban angst, unease, human relationships, Gender and Class Expectations and sociopolitical contentions; be this economic, environmental or social conditions. His work has been exhibited in London, Rome, Vancouver, Hungary and Berlin and has been featured in multiple editions of fLIP magazine. He works predominantly with analogue photographic techniques but utilizes digital scanning and manipulation to produce his work. He is an active member of Millennium Images and London Independent Photography.
About the work:
"Concurrence is an ongoing series of portraits of the people around me. I decided to take portraits of my friends and family as a way of pinning down each person at that particular time in our lives. Living in London I have always found the cities multiculturalism reflected in my many connections with people from not only different countries but also varied economic backgrounds.
I was prompted by the UK’s controversial decision to leave the European Union and I have felt in many of those people a sense of disappointment with the country they had decided to call home, even prompting some to leave. Each image is the outcome of a private interview / conversation between the sitter and myself and is a personal rumination of the coincidental nature of friendships and acknowledgement that the circumstances that bind people together are in a constant state of flux".
SFUK: Hey Daniel tell us a little about yourself.
DK:I'm from Colchester, Essex but moved to London in 2008 to attend Middlesex University to study photography. Photography was something I kind of fell into, I was always interested in image making and whilst studying at college aiming to become a doctor I took up photography alongside biology, chemistry and psychology. It soon became evident that not only was my passion photography but I didn't have the appropriate level of science education to make it within the medical field. It was at this point i quickly made the decision to follow my passion and put all my energy into photography. Since studying at university I have continued to make projects dealing with a range of subjects but ultimately circling a few main interests; Gender and class expectation and human relationships.
SFUK: So why shoot film?
DK: The reason I shoot film originally started out of necessity. Growing up in a working class household I was not able to afford a digital camera and my dad had a small collection of 35mm and medium format cameras that he had fixed which he was able to lend me. I enjoyed using 35mm but it wasn't until I used his Lubitel that my passion for film really ignited. I began cross processing out of date slide film again out of not being able to afford new film which really shook up my approach to colour balance and overall exposure. A lot of my images have colour casts and a fair amount of visible grain. Now i only shoot film, primarily medium format and I have a few projects that I am working on that will be shot on Large Format. I find the colour and light quality as well as the textural elements to be of most interest to me and is the reason i continue to use film.
SFUK: Who inspires you, any favourite people or places you frequently go to for inspiration?
DK: I often find myself walking in London estates when i am feeling in need of inspiration, there is something familiar and alien to me as I grew up in an estate so it reminds me of home however London estates are far more expansive than the one I'm from. I like the feeling of anonymity and community they seem to possess to me. Also seeing any Diane Arbus print in the flesh fills me with an urgency to make images and quite often I find myself visiting Claire De Rouen book shop when i need a photographic pick me up. I find very dark offbeat comedy such as Chris Morris's Jam and Julia Davies in Human Remains to be of a great inspiration to me when i am creating my more narrative tableau work. Artists that I personally know are Saul Fletcher, Steve Lovell Davis, Sarah Davies and E. J. Major and these people give me a great deal of inspiration and support photographically.
SFUK: How would you describe your style of shooting?
DK: My style of shooting changes from project to project. I have been working on some portraits for a series called Concurrence where I have been sat with a cable release and allowed my instincts to capture the sitters. However my more narrative tableau work is far more considered. I find however I always introduce an element of chance into my work which is very important. I will set up a scene and allow my subject to work within the boundaries. This I feel stops the work from becoming too static. I am also a very thrifty photographer however I find I am inspired mostly by what's around me so I use what is a round me to make my work rather than travelling to find something inspirational. My portfolio of work is essentially a reflection of my life, some fully fictional, some purely documentary. I like being able to look back at my work and see my own history filtered through images.
SFUK: What about equipment, do you have a favourite camera or film stock you feel compliments your work?
DK: My Pentax 67 is my favourite camera that I own. I have 1 lens (a 105mm f2.4) which I work around as I love the depth and perspective i get with it. I usually use Kodak Portra however my favourite was the now discontinued VC. I feel like the colour balance compliments my work somewhat and the quality of grain in the 160 and 400 is beautiful.
SFUK: You have a lot of work on the go right? What can you tell us about your future plans?
DK: I am currently working on 8 projects in total. I am most excited about continuing my Concurrence project and starting 2 Still life projects. I have not had a great deal of experience with still lives and the last couple of years I decided to push my own boundaries by tackling photographic styles i wasn't confident with; portraiture, landscapes and still life. I have another ongoing project titled Astriction which is a very slow burning project where I am currently producing 1 to 2 images a year for. I also have a project titled High Rising which I currently have over 40 rolls of undeveloped 35mm film shot and I am about to attempt developing my own colour film so I am excited to see how that comes out. I am hoping to turn High Rising into a small self published book/zine as my vision for it would suit that format and self publication is something I am very interested in pursuing.