By HANNAH SOMMER
Talitha is a photographer and artist earning her BA in Photography at the University of Westminster in London, UK.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Umm... I’m a human on this Earth planet but not from this planet, I sometimes get homesick for Neptune where I used to ride my giant Attacus Moth with a saddle over the purple dunes of my hometown.
Life on Earth is good but there are certain things you can’t do here, like people don’t like it when I read their minds.
But ja, I live in North London where I haunt the Heath dressed in black with my big scruffy white dog.
What got you interested in photography?
I’ve always been interested in making images. I’ve dabbled in various different kinds of image making processes. I wouldn't say I’m stuck on just photography but I think its a good baseline for other things to grow from. It’s good to have solid technical ability and knowledge firstly and then you can throw all the creative dreamy bits at it. Working in a photographic darkroom is an alchemical process and requires basic scientific understanding. Beyond that I feel the stories I want to tell are ones that straddle this reality and the next, the hidden, the unseen, the mythological, bizarre and uncanny. Photography and film as a medium are perfect for me to tell these stories. I wish I had better drawing abilities because I have so much crazy stuff in my head! Photography is my way of drawing the pictures in my head.
How would you define your photographic style?
I’m not sure I have a specific style or at least a definable one. Not sure if thats a bad thing. I guess the themes I work with are metaphysical. And conceptually perhaps Kantian in nature.
What are your inspirations for your surrealist work?
I guess you could say Im a neo surrealist but really I don't want to hold any label as there are elements of my work that are very dadaist, abstract and symbolist. The futurists were pretty amazing too, though it’s a pity Marinetti was such a fascist. But to answer your question my inspirations mainly come from dreams. I’m a big dreamer, ha! I mean at night time dreaming. For quite some time I’ve had long, epic, vivid dreams which I remember more often than not. Ive always felt that I live two lives and my sleep is very important to me because its when I travel to see my other family and friends. Sometimes I just want to stay there and not come back. This realm is so tricky but I understand the work that I need to do here now.
Other than that I love reading books! Im quite prone to the sci-fi and horror genre. I also find humans interesting, they talk nonsense mostly but some of them are really interesting, usually not the ones you would think!
What other mediums and forms of art do you work with besides still image?
At the moment, I’m making a film about spirits that materialize and dematerialize in strange places, it’s not a serious thing at all it’s just crazy, weird fun! I’m shooting it in a green screen studio and gonna edit the whole thing together with music and some trippy visuals. Its super colorful! Like less isn't more, more is more! I have a fashion design background and I used to have my own lil indie label. So I now make costumes for my shoots. Ive also been doing a bit of performance recently. I was a writhing maggot in the new Nick Knight and Gareth Pugh SS18 fashion film and I also played a Witch in a cult horror film House Of Violent Desires which comes out this year. Movement and dance are definitely important to my work as well as music and sound.
What technology and experimental processes do you like working with?
I like to use both analog and digital platforms and wholeheartedly will advocate for both. A lot of people are stuck on either one or the other and thats fine for them but for me they each can give me different things so I generally swap around. For my film I’m using a Canon XF305 video camera, a 90's era mini DV cam as well as doing portraits on a medium format digital Hasselblad *swoon.
I also recently did a fashion shoot where I shot on film (Bronica Medium format) and hand painted prints then digitally edited. Hand processing your work is really magical. Im teaching myself 'After Effects' post production software and would love to one day do something in virtual reality. I guess it’s all experimental for me at this point. Experimenting is learning and I don't think I will ever stop experimenting.
What challenges have you faced as woman in the creative industry?
I think specifically technical based creative industries are largely male dominated. Especially with photography and film most of the camera operators and the people dealing with complex technical tasks are men. I’m not saying they all are obviously, but I've often gotten this feeling on set or in conversation with a male 'techie' that I’m an imposter, like “what's this girl doing here?", gah! and the countless amount of times I've been mansplained technical stuff! Just shut up! I get it! And let’s not forget the term "Camera Man", self explanatory. Haha! Talitha Bell, job title: Camera Man. I love my job as a Camera Man!!