I notice that you go without shoes in a lot of your photos. not trying to be critical at all, it seems like it adds a lot of character + uniqueness (not to mention courage in some of the places you shoot), but just a little curious as to what inspires you to do that?
Best question I've ever been asked on formspring. Cookies for you, anonymous thinker.
Firstly, I’ll start off by saying that I am not fashion photographer. Oh, I like a pretty dress as much as the next girl (as you have probably noticed!) but I don’t own hundreds of pairs of interesting shoes. Clothes in my photographs are definitely not the focal point or the reason behind clicking the shutter. They add a lot to a shot, but through the atmosphere they can create when twinned with expression and emotion – not through the garments themselves. I’m not saying that this is the way all photography should be (aren’t there some rather well-off photographers working for a little magazine called Vogue?...), or even that fashion photography – that which puts clothing at the forefront of the image – is anything “less” than the type of photography I like. It’s just not what I personally am interested in, right now.
Linked to that, the practicality of actually wearing pretty shoes in my photographs is fairly difficult. The Norfolk countryside I traipse across to get to a lot of my favourite locations certainly isn’t too friendly with any shoes other than wellies. (The looks I got on my way down to the lake last weekend... You’d have thought they’d never seen a girl dressed in jeans, a skirt, a knitted jumper, a sweatshirt, and bright pink rainboots.) A pair of small pumps are easy to carry and easy to slip on once I get there, which is why, when I wear shoes, I almost always have these on. Most of the time, though, it’s easier to just not take them with me.
But those reasons are in no way the crux of why I go barefoot in as many photographs as possible (and why, to their horror, I almost always ask those I am photographing to take off their shoes.) The best explanation I can give for going barefoot in photographs is this: that it is natural.
It is the most natural thing in the world to walk barefoot. You should try it. Feel how liberating it is to have the grass under your feet, to feel the mud ooze between your toes. The lake grass here, as I leapt between the jetty and the tripod, was sodden and wet and wonderful. I couldn’t feel my toes after this; and that was the whole point of a photograph entitled Numb.
It’s the earth. It’ll talk to you, if you let it. One of the things I value most about photography is that it has brought me closer to the place I live in, and taught me that.
And from an aesthetic point of view, there is something beautiful about feet themselves, when they’re not hidden away inside shoes. Bones and wrinkles and insoles and ankles. I like hands and wrists too, but feet are awfully symbolic. Just think of all the places they carry you. Aren’t they graceful? They allow me to dance.
I don’t own a lot of shoes. I spend so little of my income on clothes, and then why waste what I do spend on shoes: shoes that I don’t need to wear anyway, in order to make a photograph beautiful. Who needs shoes? These kids don’t. Here, in my cosy, western, middle-class house, help me identify with that freedom. Let me, through my photography, break down the rules imposed on us by society which dictate this day and age; when capitalism rules, when being close to the Earth labels you as a freak, and when fashion would rather we forgot floral prints and instead flocked to Primark.
That’s why I go barefoot.