Artist Profile: Sophie Richards

Three days away, and talking with Sophie Richards has us loving Brisbane even more and so excited we're wetting ourselves !!!



One thing I distinctly love about photography is the way a simple shot can capture so much - a moment or a look or a fleeting thought you had eons ago that made you laugh and feel warm. 

Scrolling through the works of local Brisbane photographer and QCA honours student Sophie Richards brings back those same sensations that memories always do, and I have no doubt that if you sat down with Sophie she'd tell you something special about each of her images.

Here's a few quick words with Ms. Richards. Enjoy them over a cool glass of lemonade, dry socks and some of her choice snaps:

1. Tell us a bit about what you do?

Hello there ^_~ ! I guess you would say I am a photographer. I have been (almost obsessively) documenting all aspects of the past four or so years of my life and don’t see it ending any time soon. I just graduated from a bachelor of photography and about to embark on my Honours year!

2. And on your days off?

The nature of my work means that I don’t really have a day off - which I’m 100% okay with. I create and document entirely for myself and my friends, I think that having a visual record of one’s short time on earth is invaluable and one of the loveliest things to look back on. When I have a whole day to play with, one of my favourite things to do is to get in the car with my best friend and then just drive and see where we end up

3. How did you get into photography?

To be perfectly honest I don’t really know. I remember borrowing my parents’ dodgy point and shoot at about age 16 and really enjoying the process of photographing. I guess my interest has just increased exponentially since then.

4. What do you find is the most exciting and rewarding aspect in your working process?

Ah, this is a good question! I find my entire process to be both exciting and very rewarding mainly because I use analogue processes to create my images. The nature of film is that you have only so many exposures at your disposal and no way of checking whether they are correct until you finish the roll and get it developed. It’s great! I love handing in a roll of 35mm film with 36 exposures on it and only remembering the most recent 5. I also feel the finite nature of film makes you appreciate and consider the taking of the photograph far more than when using a digitial camera.

5. Have you had professional training for preferred to be self taught?

In terms of the technical it’s all pretty much been self taught. The main thing I took from studying photography was the access to incredibly inspirational people to give me feedback on my work. I’m about to start Honours with two amazing supervisors Marian Drew and Martin Smith by my side and I cannot wait!

6. How would you describe your work?

I find this question quite difficult - I guess I’ve realised over the years that I deal a lot with the idea of intimacy in imagery. My work is about everyday life and all aspects that encompass it. But really one’s work changes in the eyes of everyone so who am I to dictate what it’s about!

7. What motivates you to create?

The idea of creating is what motivates me. I feel that if I didn’t create I would be a pretty bored/boring person. I think I have more of a thirst to create instead of a need for motivation to create. But if I’m ever feeling a little down in the dumps, I find reading really good books or watching an excellent film helps me to feel a bit better about everything.  

8. Who inspires you at the moment?

I will always and forever be inspired by Sophie Calle. Recently I’ve been purchasing a lot of little zines from all over the world and that’s been really uplifting. The idea that people can make art and sell it inexpensively to anyone anywhere means that everyone benefits! Your life is enriched by a lovely little work and theirs is en-riched by a little bit of cash reward ;). Win win I say! 

Also you should all check out Matthew Brandt’s stuff! It’s awesome, best process art of all time. One of his projects involved documenting a bunch of different trees, he made the images and took some bark from each tree. From the bark he made paper and burnt wood in order to make charcoal, which he then used as the ink to screen print onto the homemade paper. Brilliance.

9. What’s next in terms of using different media/challenging yourself?

I recently bought a nifty little camera that uses film, but once you scan it you can create these little gifs (see above and below). I have a couple ideas for fun projects involving that. I also really want to experiment with tin type photographs and photogravure. Maybe this year!

10. Who would you most like to work with (living or dead) and why?

I would love to have had a chat to Francesca Woodman, I’m not sure how good she would be to work with. I think she’d have a lot of interesting things to say, she seems to have a very poetic mind. I would’ve loved to have made photographs of Kate Moss back when she first started modeling - such stunning beauty. I also would have loved to tour around with Joy Division taking photographs of them back in the day.

11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what would you like to be doing there?

Eep! Five years. I’d imagine I’d be overseas, hopefully in Berlin or the Faroe Islands (!!!) I’m not sure though, I’d be turning 26 that year and I think I will be thinking or starting to think about my PhD around then. At the moment I consider the future to be this coming month so to think about what will be happening in five years time is a bit of a jump..

12. Favourite places in Brisbane?

I just started working at a cute little cafe in Paddington called the Rogue Rennard which you should all definitely visit. I also love the Mt Gravatt quarry, especially these days. It’s been so hot!

13. tell us a bit about your series of works for S P A C E ?

I was pretty excited about having a curatorial stimulus to make work for the S P A C E show. Since photography uses paper inherently I wanted to create a work that distances itself from paper somewhat but also highlights paper as a sculptural work in itself. I created a series of photographs shot around some of the oldest suburbs at night on old slide film and envisaged using a slide projector to project the images onto a large piece of crinkled paper. This series, entitled Queenslanders, is not only an homage to our beautiful little city of Brisbane but also to the days when instead of sitting down to watch the television, a family would gather round and watch the slides from a recent holiday click and change before them.

This work is accompanied by a series of photographs taken of my group of friends ; things they do, places they frequent and particularly images of them in their own space. I am greatly inspired by the people who surround me and I like to think of this body of work as a sort of acknowledgement of the importance they have in my life.

14. Your favourite thing about Brisbane?

I think one of my favourite things about Brisbane has got to be the arts scene. It seems to be unlike no other I have experienced. I have heard so many people give out about the fact that Brisbane seems like the cultural "butt" of Australia but I feel that the fact that you're not handed everything on a platter (like Melbourne) makes it even more special. Brisbane is awesome! It's populated by some of the coolest, laid back doods I have had the pleasure of coming across!

Another thing is the Queenslanders. Best houses ever.

15. What would you change about Brisbane? 

Why would I want to change such a good thing ^_~!!

16. Website/blog?