Our Instagrammer in Residence project invites emerging Instagrammers from around London to experience life at the Barbican and share their photography on our social channels and also in a digital exhibition throughout the Centre.
Our May Instagrammer in Residence is Liam (@liamfarquhar), whose Instagram feed draws us in with intimate portraits and real life candids.
We talk to him about photographing people and staying authentic to his work.
How would you describe your style of photography?
As I only recently got into photography, I would describe my style as developing, but with enough potential that someone should pay me lots of money so I can quit my job and do it professionally. Please.
In the meantime I shall continue to enjoy taking pictures of people. There are two ideas that seem to be influencing me at the moment. The first is that, when photographing a person, the camera always lies. Unless you are taking a picture of something incontestable in its extremity – like childbirth or someone on fire – there will always be room to subvert the absolute truth of the moment. We are all products of different realities, and even the slightest facial spasm will transform meaning when captured in the split-second (tabloids love to exploit this). I also believe simply being aware of the camera injects an artificiality to the moment. So capturing truth is a slippery thing. With this in mind, recently I’ve been inventing my own truth, by producing candid photos with accompanying narratives. Ideally what I’m after is someone lost in their own head, which brings me to the second influencing idea.
People who seem to have all their sh*t together are simply those we don’t know well enough yet. We often compare the polished outer world of others to our better-known and complex inner world, neglecting the fact that most people have feet frantically paddling beneath the surface. I’m forever trying to capture someone lost in thought, because it serves as a reassuring reminder that we are all inhabitants of this deeply personal, often challenging space.
I also enjoy taking pictures of breakfast.
‘For me the most interesting thing is authenticity – does the picture come from a good and sincere place?’
What inspires you about the Barbican and its neighbourhood?
The Barbican is ambitious and creative and bold – it represents all the things London can be on a good day. And of course it’s impossible not to mention the architecture. To me it looks like a sci-fi prediction of the future from the past. Usually such visions stay in the drawer – those crazy bastards actually built it. I also enjoy the contrast of the buildings. They are raw and imposing, yet there is also a sensitivity to the way the towers lick at their edges. And with its labyrinthine passages and overpasses – lush with green and grey – there is always a new perspective to explore.
Not to mention all the music and art and community projects. It’s a very special place.
What makes a good picture?
It’s said a good picture considers three things: lighting, composition, and timing. Although I don’t disagree, for me the most interesting thing is authenticity – does the picture come from a good and sincere place. This to me is more compelling than a pretty picture that is technically brilliant.
Which one of your photos are you most proud of and why?
I like this shot because it captures an honest moment, despite the narrative being openly fictional. The message is also something I like to keep in mind in these politically divisive times – that despite our many differences, fundamentally we all want and need the same things.
Which 5 Instagram accounts should everyone follow and why?
@halberstam – Although I say I don’t care about taking pretty pictures, of course this is a lie. I want to take pretty pictures like Halberstam.
@elonmusk – The most remarkable man living today, arguably ever, also posts mirror selfies and pictures of pretty women doting on him. It suggests that no matter who you are or what you achieve, the need for approval is common.
@amaliaulman – Amalia is awesome. I recommend checking out her selfie-based series called “Excellences and Perfection”.
@theschooloflifelondon – Understanding your inner world affects how you interact with and capture the outside one. The School of Life helps with that.
@morleysuk – Best fried chicken in the game.
Follow us on Instagram @barbicancentre to see more of Liam’s photography in the coming weeks.