I recently got the chance to catch up with the Brighton based photographer Ian Hughes. I first came across Ians work during the London Festival of photography, where he was selected as a finalist for the 2012 street photography awards. More recently I discovered a series of his photographs that he has been compiling for the past 20 years. This new collection is called The World at my Feet.
Could you briefly tell me your background as a photographer.
I took up photography while I was at Art College near Liverpool around 1986. I was very lucky to have Tom Wood as a tutor and he encouraged me to walk the streets of Liverpool taking photos. For the following 8 years I was based in America where I worked as a cruise ship photographer on various cruise ships. It gave me the chance to take pictures of all kinds of people in some great parts of the world. In 2004 I began taking photographs of the areas surrounding football grounds, when the floodlights are switched on for a game. The series is called Around The Floodlit Grounds and I eventually aim to publish a book of the work.
Walking seems to play an important part in your photography, how?.
Having a curiosity in the world is crucial in photography and walking is the best way to explore your surroundings. I often combine cycling with photography but I always end up in a tangle and I miss too much. Walking and photography go hand in hand. I hate to walk anywhere without a camera. You see so much when you are out walking that it seems such a pity not to capture it in pictures.
Tell me a little about your new series The World at my Feet.
When I am out walking I am hunting for photos. With this series it is the photos that find me. If I look down while I’m walking and find an object, a sign at my feet, or something that I think says something about the world, then I photograph it. I don’t go looking for these photos, they have to be in my path, literally found at my feet. It was if each picture was destined to happen! This is a series of pictures taken almost subconsciously, while I was on the way to look for something else.
How do you choose what to photograph when your out walking?.
I don’t think too long and hard about whether or not to take the picture. I decide later if it fits into the series, however if something makes me smile or feel a bit sad then it’s definitely in. If it symbolises a theme that I am interested in then I also include it. The first photograph made in this series was taken in Kenya in 1994, of a shoe in a puddle. I included my own feet in that one for visual impact and it seemed like a good idea to carry on including my feet for continuity. It has also turned out to be a great document of my choices in footwear over the last 20 years!.
What does the future hold for The World at my Feet?.
As long as I can walk then the world at my feet will continue to be documented. I started taking these over 20 years ago and apart from a couple of hand made dummy books made in 2005, I haven’t used them. In recent years I have included them in a few photography talks that I have done, but they were mostly met with disinterest by the audiences. I’ve not even included them on my website yet. The idea and title The World At My Feet, seems so simple that I was sure it had to have been done before me by another photographer. I googled it however and thankfully I did’t find anything similar.