The importance of the arts in our everyday lives has become even more apparent after our time spent in lockdowns. In this new series of blog posts Redeye wants to hear from photographers who take pictures for the joy of it, in particular looking at how photography can improve our wellbeing and be beneficial for our mental health. If you would like to submit your work to this series please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louis Bever is a London-based photographer. Bever is currently a Photography Masters student at the Manchester School of Art and is represented by Gung Ho Represents Agency. He enjoys bringing his personable, honest, and passionate photographic process to his commissioned and personal work. Bever’s practice focuses on documenting people and the importance of nature for our well-being, creating projects that explore relatable areas surrounding mental health and relationships.
We spoke to Louis to hear more about his practice:
Can you tell us a little bit about your photography?
I am a portrait, landscape, and fashion photographer. My work encourages more people to open up about their emotions and look after their mental health. Although many of my projects seem diverse in the imagery, the message is very similar throughout every picture I take. My work is all shot on 6x7 medium format, which is a much slower process due to the size of the cameras and the 10 picture restriction on a roll of film. I consider my work to be warm, personable, and honest and my photographic process helps me create this feeling behind the pictures.
Chez Oim is an ongoing project that I have been working on for a few years, where I travel to the countryside or stumble upon pockets of nature within cityscapes and document scenes that catch my eye. After spending my Masters learning about meditation and mindfulness, I do not feel any pressure to constantly make work, which oddly makes me want to make more work!
Why do you take photographs?
I am a hugely anxious and impatient man and anything photography related seems to relax me when I am not feeling myself. This can be picture-taking, going to the lab, making prints, and even developing my film. Every part of the process seems to be a positive distraction and a healthy coping mechanism. Photography fascinates me. The fact that you can document a moment and have a physical copy of your memory is mind-blowing. A lot of the process requires a lot of walking too. The pictures document my acts of mindfulness and I want to encourage the viewer to do the same thing. Even if it doesn't involve a camera, I want to influence the viewer to immerse themselves in any form of nature, regardless of size, and enjoy its beneficial effects on the brain.
Where do you find your inspiration?
When I was younger, my parents took my brother and me to art galleries when we were living in France. I was constantly drawn to these colossal Romanticism paintings. I was overwhelmed by the serene scenes and by the sheer size of them. I still look at artists like Constable and Friedrich to this day as a source of inspiration. Several photographers like Eliot Porter and Irina Rozovsky document nature in such an intimate and exciting manner. However, growing up in France, photographers like: Ronis, Cartier-Bresson, Capa, and Doisneau will always be a source of inspiration. I love their dedication and enthusiasm to the photograph. They could walk for hours and not take a single picture; this is an act that I am trying to do myself. Leaving France drew me closer to French culture. Films like Midnight in Paris are an excellent source of inspiration. I have watched that film an embarrassing number of times, but I feel at home when I watch it and I always notice something new that inspires me to take pictures.
How do you balance your time between being creative and making a living?
It's a very tough balance that I am still trying hard to get my head around. Every photographer feels like this, but I see it as a motivation to keep us shooting. When I am shooting my commercial work I can miss doing personal work and vice versa. I have found a compromise where I try to put my own photographic identity into every picture I take. I am happy as long as every photo I take keeps my passion alive for the creative medium. I make my living from my fashion and commissioned work and then spend my free time wandering around. I always have my camera on me, so if I am lucky enough to find something that catches my eye then I have something to document it with. I always trust my gut instinct when it comes to taking pictures. If something doesn't feel right then I will put my camera back into my bag.
Do you have any advice for people who are unsure on how to progress with their photography?
I started taking pictures when social media did not exist. I feel as if many photographers measure their skills as a photographer based on how many likes they get online. I find it ridiculous because many photographers will then change their photographic progress to gain likes even though they do not enjoy the pictures they are taking. I hear about many photographers who have quit due to the lack of virtual affirmation, which is very sad. It is crucial to have great pictures that you are happy with and reflect you as a person regarding photography. It does not matter if you don't have an online presence, as long as you are enjoying the act of taking a picture. That is the main thing. Do not put pressure on yourself and it is always good to share the work that you are most proud of. Photography should be an honest presentation of how you see life. We are all unique, so it is vital to create unique work.
To see more from Louis visit his website: https://www.louisbever.com/
Or follow his Instagram: @louisbever