An Interview With Young Photographer Olive Gilson

Interview by Bella Koopman

How did you first get into photography?

I first got into photography from my dad, he gave me his old camera, very cliche. I also watched The Devil Wears Prada as a young child, this helped me niche my interest further into the fashion photography I study currently. 

What is your favourite thing to take photos of?

My favourite thing to take photos of is various eccentric types. I like to focus on subcultures that have less opportunity to be presented in mainstream media and to really represent the weird and wonderful- through their own eyes. Using documentary photography, I like to capture candid moments in communities that many people have not been lucky enough to gain insight to.

From Olive’s project, ‘YOUTH’

What do you most want to convey with your photography?

 When I take photos I like to convey raw moments, often times I feel these carry their own sense of beauty in a way that they can never be captured in the same way twice. I like my photos to provide a certain uncensored nature, honest, unfiltered and true to the moment. More recently however, I have started to experiment with more abstract image-making; and this work is a lot more interpretive than my very literal documentary photography. With this new style I have undertaken, I want to create images made from my own inspirations and have this translated into an audience that can also perceive them in their own way. 

Do you have a favourite project? If so, what is it and why?

One of my favourite projects to date was the ‘Angels of Essex’ project. I feel this was also reflected in the subsequent incredible traction this project gained. I loved this project so much as it was always a goal of mine. I was able to provide a very exclusive look into British strip culture and as a result of this was able to strike up multiple conversations surrounding sex work, female empowerment, and what it means to be a sex worker in contemporary society. 

An image from Olive’s project ‘Angels of Essex’

Do you think your youth and experience growing up has majorly affected what you photograph?

I have been lucky enough to have had a very well-rounded, secure upbringing, I feel as though I have used my photography to see life through various different perspectives and gain a better understanding of the current world climate and how this has affected those in situations different to myself. I really hope to bring attention to things that may not otherwise be talked about through my work and in turn give voices to the people that I photograph. I also focus strongly on work that nods to feminism and queer-culture as these are two specific things that are close to my heart. 

Where do you see your craft going? Where do you want it to be in 5 years?

As I mentioned previously, I have recently started to focus on image-making and 3D software. I’d hope to further expand these skills as well as continuing to produce the documentary type photography that I have always loved. Another area I would love to break into is the music industry- producing music videos is something that I have wanted to work towards for a while. However, I am also enjoying the process of getting to wherever I may end up and learning on the way. 

From Olive’s project ‘3D Oakley’

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