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Ben Roberts March 26, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in France.

Rock Climber, Fontainebleau, France, 2009

Editor’s Note: It’s been busy here at Verve Photo, and I forgot to mention that last week was the third anniversary of the site. So far over 500 photographers from around the world have been featured. Your work is a testimony to how the medium has evolved, and this growing community of incredible photographers is what makes it so exciting. Here’s to another year!

Ben Roberts (b. 1979, United Kingdom) is an independent photographer based in the UK. He studied photography at the Arts University College, Bournemouth. Ben has photographed projects as diverse as youth culture in Scotland, Australian gold mining and Spain’s economic crisis. He’s now working on a new body of work exploring the periphery of London. Ben is represented by Picturetank in Paris, and has had his work published in Le Monde, Regards, The Fader and Newsweek. In 2009 Ben was the recipient of the British Journal of Photography’s Project Assistance Award for his series ‘The Gathering Clouds’ – a contemplative look at the effects of the economic crisis on Spain’s social and physical landscape. In 2010, Ben was named as one of PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch.

About the Photograph:

“In April 2009 I took a trip to Paris to visit my agency Picturetank. On a day off from meetings, I took a trip out to the forest at Fontainebleau with a friend. Fontainebleau is a mecca for practitioners of bouldering – a form of rock climbing performed at low level without ropes. I spotted Enzo from a vantage point up high on a cliff. It took me another 20 minutes of wandering amongst the labyrinth of boulders to find him again. I watched him climb with some friends for a while, and then asked if I could take his portrait. I had already found the location where I wanted to make the photograph, a couple of minutes walk from where he had been climbing, and in a quieter part of the woodland. The image is staged to a certain extent. I asked Enzo to remove his shoes and glasses so that the portrait became more elemental. The white on his hands is chalk dust which helps his grip when climbing. For me this small detail is what holds the portrait together and places it in context.”

One of the first assignments given to me when I was a photography student was to head out onto the streets of Bournemouth with my camera loaded up with a roll of 35mm, and return with portraits of 36 different strangers. At the time it was a huge challenge: my own nervousness compounded by a lack of confidence with a camera. It was however an important exercise. By the end of the roll, approaching people had become easier, and I came to realize that the worst that could happen would be a ‘no’. Meeting and photographing strangers has become an important part of my practice; While some of these stranger portraits are photographed within the wider context of a body of work, I revel in the way a camera can be used as a tool that enables me to meet new people and gain an understanding of the places that I visit through it’s inhabitants. Over the last four years I’ve accumulated a large number of stranger portraits, and when I launched my new website in December 2010, it made sense to bring the stronger images together.”


1. Sunday 27 March 2011 « P H O T O J O U R N A L I S M L I N K S - April 9, 2011

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