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Your work is a mixture of different styles. How do you define your work in a nutshell?

Documentary, with a lot of artistic license.

What is your working process; how do you develop your ideas?

With Florida Club I just kept shooting and constantly making edits to see what was working so it just came about from trial and error really. With the project I’m working on currently – On Tour – I had had the idea for a couple of years before I started it and I had a lot more personal experience with the subject as I had been on holiday in one of the destinations and worked in another, so I had a better idea of what I was looking for. I also have a lot of time between shoots because it depends on the holiday season and the cost of the trips, so I have a lot of time to plan, edit and research, and little time to shoot when I’m actually there. For my next trip I have been using Google Street View to have a look around the resort and make some screen shots for reference.

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How do you go about approaching strangers you wish to photograph?

It’s different every time – sometimes I’ll just ask, other times I’ll be talking to someone for a while before I decide I’d like to photograph them, everyone is different though so there’s no secret formula you just have to be polite. With On Tour, it’s best to go out and have some drinks and the seasonal workers come to me – it’s their job to.

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There is a sense of loneliness running throughout your images. What draws you to the places and people you choose to photograph?

It’s partly an escape – Florida Club was a reaction to spending three years in London. It’s also a curiosity and an eagerness to understand different ways of life and places. The people I photographed for Florida Club had no particular significance – something about their appearance just caught my eye. With On Tour, I am only photographing young British people who have chosen to work in these Mediterranean-British hot-spots for a season, I find their commitment and determination interesting, it’s quite hard on the body and mind to work in a place which is constantly in party mode and in a job where you have to be part of the furniture – to be part of the appeal, this is why I have photographed them in a quiet solitary way; to temporarily separate them from their surroundings and focus on them as an individual in a strange set of circumstances. What I find most interesting is that this is preferable to their lives in the UK and the reasons they have chosen to start a new life abroad, albeit temporarily. I’m not really interested in photographing tourists – you can watch one of may TV documentaries or look at other photographers work to see what that looks like.

Tell us a little more about your Florida Club series.

I made the Florida Club work between January and April 2013, driving up to Great Yarmouth every weekend and spending two or three days there at a time. Like I mentioned before it was partly a reaction to living in London for three years and feeling a bit suffocated, I find it difficult to make work there because everything moves too quickly- I’m not very opportunistic. So I decided to go off and find somewhere else to make a work. Great Yarmouth came up when I was looking to make some work about coastal erosion and flooding, I dropped that idea because the worst effected areas had already fallen into the sea and deals had been resolved to move people away from the danger zones so it wasn’t much of an issue anymore. Florida Club ended up being an exercise in making a body of work which suggested some kind of narrative; the work is not about anything in particular just exploring a place during its down time and responding to a new landscape. It also taught me to not get bogged down with the age-old burden of trying to tell the ‘truth’ and to just make up your own mind and run with it – this is what I mean by ‘documentary with a lot of artistic license’.

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Which photographers influence you visually?

August Sander, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, Mark Power, Gareth McConnell, Andrew Miksys. Mostly things with strong colour.

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Your On Tour series seems very personal and therapeutic. When do you feel a project is ‘complete’; is it when the images fit together visually, or when you feel that the work has served its purpose for you emotionally?

This is something I have been thinking about a lot recently because it’s driving me a bit nuts only being able to shoot once a year with On Tour  so I’m keen to shoot more this year if I can afford it and potentially get it finished sooner. But I can’t really answer that yet because this is my first long-term project.

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How does where you are based affect the way you work?

I’m not sure it does but I’ve only lived in London and Brighton since I started taking photography seriously so it probably would if I moved somewhere abroad. I have started making work in my home town recently though, it’s an incredibly average market town in Bedfordshire which I would never have seen any potential in had I not moved away.

What is the most important thing that photography has taught you about yourself?

Again, I’m not really sure how to answer that; I haven’t been at it long enough.

 

See more of William’s work at www.williamlakin.com