LONELY URBAN PEOPLE
IN CONVERSATION WITH BELINDA CORNEY
Photographer Belinda Corney is now based in London but is originally from Queensland, Australia. Coming from an artistic background and always enjoying taking photos, it was in 2017 that Belinda first discovered street photography through a street photography workshop. This kick-started her to get out and photograph the amazing city she was living in and was the artistic outlet she had been missing for a long time. This collection of images shows Belinda's love of light, shadow and reflections, she is especially drawn to the interesting shapes that shadow and light create, and as well as capturing the interaction of human beings, usually solitary or in silhouette, within their environment.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your background. When and how did you start getting interested in photography?
I am originally from Airlie Beach, Australia and moved to London in 2004. I currently work as a Graphic Designer and photography is a much-loved hobby. I have always enjoyed taking photos but had no specific genre I gravitated towards.
What piqued my interest in photography was a 2003 documentary called Dreamlives about photographers Trent Parke and Narelle Autio. You can also follow their work @chillioctopus. I got caught up in their passion and exuberance for chasing the amazing Australian light and that perfect moment. This documentary inspired me to go out buy my first SLR camera, then I came to London and this is when my love of shadow and light started to translate into my photography. My interest in street photography came much later after participating in a workshop with Joshua K. Jackson @joshkjack and Craig Whitehead @sixstreetunder in 2017. This workshop instantly kick-started my love of getting out and photographing the amazing city I live in.
Do you have a favourite quote/lyric/saying that resonates with you the best?
“It's an honour to be able to make a good photograph of anyone, and it’s a great privilege. It's the only tool that will stop time itself.”- Jill Freedman
I watched the documentary Everybody Street for the first time last year and Jill Freedman was one of the photographers featured and what she said stuck with me. This whole documentary is full of some pretty inspirational and motivating stuff, I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in documentary or street photography!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Instagram, YouTube, documentaries, books, but mostly when I am out and about exploring London, you see a scene or location and it inspires you to create something from it.
What do you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
I am drawn to the interesting shapes that shadow and light create, as well as capturing the interaction of human beings, usually solitary or in silhouette, within their environment. I do love a sense of mystery, it developed in college and I haven’t been able to shake it!
Who are your favourite artists or photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
Magnum photographer Trent Parke who I mentioned earlier. I especially love his Dream/Life series. I was drawn to how he has captured the franticness of city life, but how it also conveys a sense of isolation that can come with living in a large city.
There are also so many great photographers who inspire me on a daily basis via Instagram:
Mavis CW - @onechapter, Mark Fearnley - @mark.fearnley, Josh Edgoose - @spicy.meatball, Eric Kogan - @erickogan, Nina Welch-Kling - @ninakling, Mo Barzegar - @mo.barzegar, Hiroshi - @hiro_ig101, Sara Melhuish - @swendeluk to name a few...there are so many!
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
A little. I am still drawn to light and shadow, but I do try to take a few more typically candid shots here and there looking for interesting moments and faces. I am not very good at it but it is fun!
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
I love brutalist architecture, so Barbican and the Southbank Centre in London are favourite spots of mine, I enjoy capturing moments in these spaces and along the Southbank itself. I also love the Tate Modern which is another iconic landmark in London, it’s a beautiful building and space to photograph in and around.
How does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length? What would you say to someone wanting to start out in your genre of photography?
I have the Fujifilm X-T2. I find the tactile nature of the dials and aperture ring helped me fully understand the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture, but the rest is on me!
My 50mm f2 is my preferred lens at the moment. I am trying to use my 23mm f2 more but I do neglect it as jumping between the two can be quite jarring due to the difference in focal length!
For someone wanting to start out in street photography, I would say always have your camera with you. Also, have your camera on and the lens cap off so it is ready to use, you don't want to be fumbling with your camera and miss the shot! It is only since I have been doing this that I have noticed my photography style improve. You will end up taking a lot of photos and only one or two may be good out of the hundreds you do take, but when you get that shot you are proud of it makes all your efforts worthwhile and encourages to you keep going.
Do you prefer to shoot alone or with friends?
I find shooting on my own more relaxing, you can just wander and lose yourself in a walk around London. But I do enjoy meeting up with fellow photographers every now and then, it’s fun to have a walk and a chat and bounce ideas and compositions of each other. I have met some lovely photographers through photo walks and meetups here in London.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
I studied Visual Arts majoring in illustration and printmaking in college, I also used to draw a lot, but when I came to London I just stopped.
Are there any books that you have read that have inspired your creativity and that you would like to recommend to us?
There are three books I have picked up again recently. ‘Masters of Street Photography’ which features the work of sixteen amazing photographers. Each section tells you a little about the photographer, then there is a brief explanation about each photo. ‘Southwestern’ by Niall McDiarmid is another great book. All the photographs are all taken around South West London where I live so it’s great seeing familiar locations through someone else’s eyes. Finally, I am really enjoying ‘Fred Herzog - Modern Colour’. There is a real mix of shots, mostly documenting Vancouver in the 60’s and 70’s, I love the complexity of some of the shots and the use of bright colours via signs, billboards, painted walls, doors and people’s clothing, I highly recommend it.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on?
Not at the moment. I have thought about creating a zine, I am a terrible procrastinator though!
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
I am not great at setting myself goals, but in five years I hope to be back in Australia. I would love to set up a studio of some sort and get back into my printmaking, perhaps even creating prints from photos I have taken over the years.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)...
...meet up with friends, walk, but I normally always have my camera with me when I do this! I do love to lose myself in a good book or TV series, I have been doing a lot of this during lockdown."