Interview with Sam Edmonds, Photographer
Interview with Sam Edmonds, Photographer
Recently, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Sam Edmonds, a social documentary and conservation photographer from Sydney, Australia. Edmonds’ work has been exhibited internationally. I truly enjoy Edmonds’ work, and I am sure that you will too!
(Please note: Due to the representation of Edmonds’ work entitled, Robindra Boys, discussed below, this body of work is not included in this interview. To view this body of work, please visit here.)
KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a photographer and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?
SAM EDMONDS: I became interested in photography when I was in high school. My parents bought me a DSLR for Christmas one year and I started photographing surfing on Sydney’s Northern Beaches but it wasn’t until I left school that I really considered taking photography seriously and begun to understand the potential of the medium as a form of communication. I have previously focused on drawing and painting but I became drawn to photography partly because people see photographs as a record – or even a truth – which is really not the case but I thought this was so powerful and something that I wanted to explore.
KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?
SAM EDMONDS: At a tertiary level, I initially studied design but then switched to art and got a degree in photography from the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane. I studied the mandatory subjects like art history and semiotics but I was much more interested in taking electives to do with politics and ethics which was really the beginning of my journalistic/documentary focus.
KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?
SAM EDMONDS: People often say my pictures are quite confronting and I think in a lot of cases this is true. The fact is that what concerns me personally are issues relating to exploitation or injustice; and most of the time, I choose to communicate these in quite a succinct and perhaps challenging manner.
KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating photographs was absolutely something that you had to do?
SAM EDMONDS: I think I realized how important photography was to me when I realized the importance of it as a way of bearing witness. I grew up near the ocean which gave me a great connection to it and to the species we share it with. The documentary, The Cove, was a big influence on me. For me, this film really illustrated the importance of bearing witness to such atrocities and how powerful the camera can be to making people aware of an issue.
KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin photographing dogs?
SAM EDMONDS: I think the focus that my work so far has had on dogs is something that has come about almost by accident but probably very subconsciously. I think most people, if not everyone, have a connection to canine species. They have been companions to our species ever since wolves began approaching our camp fires and throughout art and literature ever since they have often played a role. From Diogenes to Jack London, dogs have been both a source of inspiration and a measure by which we mark our own “civilization,” and I think that is something that is still being considered in art today. Diogenes noted the sincerity and the truth that lay behind the lives of dogs. I think the way we treat them, use them, live with them, and connect with them says a lot about us.
KATHERINE CARVER: Where did the idea emanate for your series entitled, “Robindra Boys”?
SAM EDMONDS: Robindra Boys came about when I was photographing with an NGO in Bangladesh called Obhoyaronno. This organization is doing fantastic things for dogs on the streets of Dhaka and it was their president that told me the story about this group of kids and dogs living in a park as one big family. As soon as I found out about this, I went to the park and met the whole bunch. To me, it just seemed like such a unique story and something really worth telling people about.
KATHERINE CARVER: Where do you show/exhibit your work?
SAM EDMONDS: Most of my work is featured either in online publications or in magazines because this allows me to reach the largest audience possible. However, I have exhibited in South-East Asia, Australia, and the United States.
KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative” mean to you?
SAM EDMONDS: Being creative, to me, means seeing something that isn’t obvious and drawing attention to it – whether that is an idea, a technique, a function, or a thought.
KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?
SAM EDMONDS: I think the most challenging aspect of photographing will always change dependent upon what “kind” of photographer you are. For me and my style of shooting, the most challenging aspect is usually discerning the most effective way of maintaining a politic within an issue whilst keeping an essay aesthetically pleasing enough that people are drawn to looking at it.
KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?
SAM EDMONDS: It is really inspiring to see how people’s attitudes towards the environment and other species are beginning to improve lately but there are still so many injustices happening on a daily basis. We are made more aware of these now by the access to and ease of use of communication but sometimes it takes a little extra persuasion to take action on an issue. And I think that good documentary work can help to do this.
KATHERINE CARVER: What are the most rewarding and satisfying part about being an artist and creating art?
SAM EDMONDS: For me it is seeing people genuinely reacting to or concerned by work I have produced. Robindra Boys has received a better response than I could have ever imagined so every time I receive an email or phone call from someone that has been affected by those portraits it is very rewarding.
KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?
SAM EDMONDS: Recently I have been working with conservation group Sea Shepherd in both Antarctic and the Faroe Islands so I have been photographing there and helping to document their struggles against illegal whaling.
KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?
SAM EDMONDS: Photographically I’m really inspired by Aaron Huey and Danny Wilcox Frazier.
KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
SAM EDMONDS: I think when you are starting out it is really important to focus on issues or ideas that are important to you. It is very easy to become mixed up in producing work that others would like to see or that you think will be successful but your best work will always come from a genuine vested interest.
KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your art works?
SAM EDMONDS: At www.samedmonds.com there is a brief synopsis of my work as well as a print order form.
The above image is courtesy of Sam Edmonds.
You can read additional interviews here.