Kandhola, Max. (4 of 4). Oral History of British Photography.

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  • Recording date

    2016-09-26, 2016-09-30

  • Recording locations

    The British Library

  • Interviewees

    Kandhola, Max, 1962- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Read, Shirley (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: A continuation of the conversation about MK’s department at Nottingham Trent, that he has a team of 13 with four new appointees and between six and ten part timers, that the team is always in transition but has a consensus about the importance of photography, it is one of the oldest photographic courses in the country, its signature is important, that the curricula is fluid about what photography is, student numbers. Reflection upon how people understand photography. [04:04] Comment on the huge change from when MK joined, the question of what a photographer needs to know and be able to do, the different values in it from artistic, documentary to commercial, that it is very much about personal research, commercial value is driven by technological skill, the photographer also needs to have business skills and marketing and managing photographic flow, that they embed critical thinking in all the projects and their success rate is high. [12:43] Comment that MK has to look at strategies and support other disciplines, that the student drives their own study, that they are from all over the country and the world and a range of different backgrounds. [16:40] Remark that their alumni are second to none, they run their own photographic agencies, fashion agencies, include people in GQ, Vogue and Getty, they help and support the course, mention of the people MK invites to speak, further comments about the course. [21:21] Comment that they work on analogue and digital and have kept both b&w and colour, although the colour is always debateable and they monitor it every year, comments on printing digitally, on personal development for the staff, that the way students engage has changed, social media profiles and training the students to be conscious about it, that MK uses social media regularly and encourages students to look at particular sites, and look at the Houston Photo Festival and Format sites, for example and look at the reviewers, a comment that MS said MK was good at networking, the way he did this, looking at work, phoning corporate clients and hiring out work, that things have changed since his conversations with Rhonda about marketing strategy, its tough, MK gets cold calls, that photographers are quite insecure in terms of what they do. [38:46] Comment that this insecurity hasn’t changed for him, that self publishing has allowed people to put out weak work, that he presents his colleagues’ research to the students. [40:46] Comment that he feels privileged to see the students work, thinks they get a good deal, that he has numerous students to be his assistants who have edited and printed or researched for him, examples from Illustration of Life and Flatland, mention of Mark Excell, Ben Swanson and Carl Beeney. Comment that MK thinks Nick Hedges and John Hodges were invaluable in shaping the way he saw photography. [47:46] Comments about how Nick Hedges questioned the image, his Shelter work, about not being a bystander. [50:15] MK’s consideration of outputs, a piece of writing by Virginia Swanson in the United States, the content, type and value of a portfolio and MK’s attitude to it. [55:20] Comments about composition and training the eye, the different use of and engagement with different cameras, that it’s a planning issue and about fine tuning. [59:53] Comment that in academia you have to deal with the outcome criteria and that MK has to keep the students aware of that and move on. [01:00:38] Comments that teaching is a two way process, he likes to see how they are and see, that he likes their drive, that they help MK with new technology. [01:02:32] Comment that there are more women students than men and that the percentage has increased, its about 70% women now, that although he doesn’t know why this is he thinks its about a sense of autonomy and independence, that a camera gives you access. [01:04:16] A conversation about the accumulation of knowledge through experience and reading with reference to images in Illustration of Life which are carefully edited in camera because the knowledge he brought to it worked quite instantly, he knew what he wanted to photograph and the significance of particular pictures, like of MK’s father’s hair, that he was also conscious of other work around that subject such as Victorian photos of death and [Andreas] Serrano’s morgue photos, that MK had a brief conversation with Serrano about the work, the differences between their two approaches, MK’s interest in the tactile, people’s comments. [01:13:19] Comments about titling the work, liking long titles and a homage to his mother’s dying. [01:17:23] Description of the traditional Indian preparation of the body for cremation by the men in the family, that the NHS allows for this, that it is humbling process but MK found it difficult to do for his brother two years later, that women prepared his mother’s body. [01:20:30] Comments about MK’s working methods, that he rarely shoots much because he knows what he wants, the angles, the composition beforehand, examples of shooting in Harlem, New York earlier in the year and a café near the British Library early on the day of the interview, that he avoids distortion in the camera or something which will mean he has to use photoshop, knowing how to use the frame, editing, research, of personal interest and without commercial value, working quickly, walking slowly, liking street photography and the way people talk to him when he’s working on the street, historical sites and thinking about Gordon Parks, that once you have a sense of composition you can’t lose it. [01:27:35] Further comments about posting pictures from the sound studio on his social media, about the importance of consistence and making bodies of work, liking Spencer Murphy’s work, what has changed for him [01:30:10] A brief summary of how MK feels about his life and the way photography has fused, shifted and changed in it since he was eighteen; his family, his academic life and pride in Nottingham Trent university and that photography is always part of how he looks at the world, he always has his iphone and laptop, his busy life, that art is everywhere in it, his family’s pride in him and his wife.

  • Description

    Life story interview with photographer Max Kandhola (1964-)

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