Simon Marsham is a 25-year-old London-based photographer who, after about a decade of capturing images, has built up a striking body of ethereal and often intimate shots. Ranging from casual portraits to architectural and documentary-style pieces, Marsham’s work, evidences his astute understanding of gesture and mood as well as his ability to somehow extract majesty and beauty from the everyday situations and paraphernalia he captures.
Besides busying himself with his own practice, Norfolk-born Simon also runs the successful Not Content blog; a platform that profiles the work of likeminded, young photographers from around the world. Dazed Digital recently sat down with Simon in order to find out what makes him tick and, indeed, click.
Dazed Digital: When did you start taking pictures?
Simon Marsham: I suppose 'proper photography' probably began in my mid-teens, when I was taking photos of DIY bands for zines, getting into directors like Chris Marker and Wim Wenders, and trying to develop my work into being something a little more 'artistic'. Shooting things that weren't bands and taking a course for my degree on the 'Histories of Photography' were important for helping me realise this goal.
DD: Can you detail a bit about how you work? What cameras, films and techniques you use etc.?
Simon Marsham: I work with a mix of SLR and point-and-shoot cameras, along with a couple of different film stocks that I've set on after years of trial and error. I used to like picking up antique cameras from charity shops and experimenting with damaged film because the resultant effects seemed to show the processes of photography disintegrating. To me, it ran as an analogy to the idea of the photograph “capturing a moment”. But, it became counterproductive to lose (possibly) good photos to the indeterminacy of expired film and barely-functioning equipment. So, now the ideas remain even if the technique does not.
DD: Are there any recurrent, conscious themes or sensibilities you seek to communicate or explore in your work?
Simon Marsham: I came across the term 'irreality' a few years back and it still best explains my take on, and one of my interests in, photography - that the photographic image draws heavily and obviously from reality but then exists as something very different, in a state of irreality. I like to think my photographs communicate this state. Everything else I'd prefer to leave open to the viewer.
DD: You run the successful Not Content blog. What is it you look for in the work of the photographers you feature? Do you, in some sense, feel that your work relates to the work of the artists you feature?
Simon Marsham: Not Content was started in 2009 by Cherry Styles and I when, I think, we were both feeling claustrophobic in our day-to-day lives. We felt that photography offered a way of documenting and defining ourselves. It was this notion (and things like the vitality of youth etc.) that Cherry and I were initially infatuated with, and looked for in the work of the photographers we featured. Often, the internet seems full of saturation and emulation, so I just try to feature photographers whose work I enjoy and want to share with whatever readership I have. This seems like the most honest end to my curatorial abilities!
DD: On a very basic level, what is it that compels you to take photographs?
Simon Marsham: There seems to be this received wisdom repeated in books and films that photography takes you “out of the moment” or whatever, but, to me, it's always been something else - a different way of experiencing reality, an otherness. I suppose there's a certain vanity in recording your own perception of things… It’s something that places you in the world.
DD: What’s next for Simon?
Simon Marsham: I've got a small exhibition/editions sale at the Mayfair location of Taylor Street Baristas, organised by NewThey, which is still happening now, and I'm working on a zine called Fire Sale which will be drawn from my travels around Europe and at home. It's taking the shape of a lifework – ever-expanding the longer I put it off and the more I travel. Luckily, the possibilities of self-publishing seem to continue to improve as I procrastinate! Asides from that, earlier this year I contributed some work to a German-me toEnglish language magazine called Verfreundungseffekt. I'm always on the lookout for other interesting collaborations and projects.