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BBC talk to Peter Dench: The eye behind the lens

13 February 2017

England Uncensored by Peter DenchImage copyrightPETER DENCH

It's unique in many ways, but the power the photographer wields in how the subject is represented should not be underestimated and is what makes the stories of those behind the lens so fascinating.

Photographer Peter Dench, known for his powerful and humorous take on the human condition, has recently published a collection of interviews he has conducted with a number of leading photographers.

Delving behind the camera to see what makes them tick, Dench reveals how they have made an impact on the photographic world.

"All of the photographers featured have shaped me in some way; sometimes professionally, more often personally," said Dench.

Dench writes that photography has always been a solitary profession, but once digital took hold there was no need to head to the laboratory where photographers would often meet, hanging around for their prints to come off the line.

To combat that loss, Dench sought out other photographers, sometimes staying with them in their homes, other times just chatting over a pint.

The resulting interviews are more a discussion, a collaboration between the two of them.

One of the photographers Dench interviewed is Chris Floyd, whose series One Hundred & Forty Characters comprised images of his followers on Twitter.

Beautiful, energetic black and white pictures that brought together a random selection of people all linked through the photographer, both socially on Twitter, and now visually.

Billie PiperImage copyrightCHRIS FLOYD

Floyd began as an assistant photographer before setting out to follow a new path that would help shape the look of a generation through the pages of Loaded and GQ.

Since then, his images have appeared in many major magazines, from the New Yorker to Harpers Bazaar, and he has shot advertising campaigns for British Airways, Apple and Sony to name a few.

Another featured photographer, Harry Borden, the recipient of numerous awards as well as a solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, should need little introduction to anyone with an interest in portrait photography.

Whatever the subject, his ability to connect the viewer and the subject in that split second is a gift few manage time and time again.

Dench stayed with Borden at his home in Devon and writes: "Borden likes to win; not only win, but to out-skill, out-think, out-manoeuvre, out-earn and out-photograph his competitors."

BjorkImage copyrightHARRY BORDEN

That's a lofty aim, yet one backed up by the pictures.

His first commission, for NME back in 1989, was of Craig Gannon, guitarist with The Smiths, for which he was paid £25.

Borden tells Dench that he said yes to everything, producing work for a range of magazines, ensuring he was first-choice photographer and in the early days utilising a number of technical tricks, from cross-processing to ring flash.

Other photographers included in the book range from Martin Parr to Laura Pannack and Marcus Bleasdale to Anastasia Taylor-Lind.

What ties all of the photographers together is that long-term vision, whereby the individual pictures build into cohesive bodies of work over time, each with their own unique stamp.

An exhibition of Great Britons of Photography Vol.1: The Dench Dozen, published by Hungry Eye magazine can be seen at Project-Space in London 14-24 February.

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