Photographer, Jasper White’s recent work examines personal spaces synonymous with daily life. Reflecting on his tent project, shot at Glastonbury 2011, Jasper tells us about the concept, the challenges and the stories which reveal themselves from working in the busy, and famously muddy, environment of the world’s largest music festival.
It’s the ultimate music festival. You get a huge number of people, young and old, from all over the world and all walks of life. So, it provides an enormous range of subjects.
What was the idea and what did you hope to achieve?
The tent project came about because I thought it would be interesting to explore a transient space that people only use for a small period of time. A space they really try and make a home away from home by bringing all kinds of crazy things from home with them — stereos, kitchen appliances, their entire wardrobe, weird objects… all kinds of things.
I wanted to capture the unseen, to instill the character of the people inhabiting the spaces; to have fun without poking fun. It’s a social experiment I guess.
What were the logistical challenges of the shoot?
I like to use film and, for the tent series, I shot on a large 5×4 format. The camera and kit weigh at least 15kg, so shooting with bulky equipment in a campsite filled with thousands of people, in mud, on wonky ground covering miles of fields every day was crazy!
Choosing the film and large format camera meant I had to slow down and think. It allowed me to create images you feel you can walk into. It’s the colour, the quality and the process of consideration that makes it so rewarding. And there’s the excitement of waiting for the images to develop.
On the shoot it was just me and Getty Images’ Art Director, Gemma Fletcher carrying around the gear in harsh weather conditions. No assistants. But Gemma is a great art director, with boundless enthusiasm, and was a pleasure to work with which made it a lot easier going.
I had to approach festival-goers and ask their permission to shoot in their tents. Once they got what I wanted to do, they were usually, fine. Most people want to help artists; they don’t see them as a threat and are genuinely happy to be a part of it.
What interests you about personal spaces?
Jasper: I find it more interesting to show a part of the person through spaces they’d recently occupied. With the tent project you get to see their musical alliances, their sense of humour and persona through the items they bring along to the festival.
But it’s just a take on that moment. It may not be the self they reveal outside. It’s a question that’s never quite answered and that’s what I find so interesting about it. It’s voyeuristically poking at a hidden truth to expose what may or may not be.
I also like to consider how these spaces relate to other. It’s my sense of curiosity coming out. I like bringing out a story which everyone will see in a different way.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just completed a project in Israel, ‘Young guns’, about an object commonly used in the military – the gun. It’s about the young fighters who’ve started their service. The idea was to take an object that has no inherent character, but dark connotations, and examine how it changes within different settings.
Editor’s note: Julian Panico writes many interesting posts for the Getty Images blog and insightful pieces for the Curve by Getty Images. If you see him at Glastonbury this year, say hello from me!