Would you start by giving us a summary of your background in photography, did you study or are you a self-taught photographer? 

I am a self-taught photographer. My interest in photography really came through walking… being out in the wilds. Initially I used a camera to simply record the places I went & experiences I had, but as time went by the photography became a more important element… as a way of expressing my relationship with my surroundings, the way I see the world, what interests me.

In commercial terms, I was working as a graphic designer… using images by professional photographers in the layouts I was working on – when I began to feel, wait a minute, I could be creating images like these too. So, I decided to go freelance, as a photographer, but also continue with graphic design as well as the two go very well together. This was about 15 years ago.

Do you carry out commercial commissions? 

Yes, I still do commercial commissions, but being based in the Scottish Highlands they are few and far between these days!

Most of your personal projects focus on the everyday, predominantly in Scotland, why is this place of interest to you?

It’s my home 🙂 I know Scotland very well and love the place… although my Out of the Ordinary project still took me to corners I’d never explored! Scotland offers endless opportunities and ideas for projects.

I also don’t have much in the way of funds, so cannot really travel to make work elsewhere very often.

Are there any photographers who have stood out to inspire you throughout the making of your projects? 

Certain photographers have been very influential to me in the development of my own work – Mark Power, for example… his work has inspired me for many years, since buying a copy of ‘Shipping News’ back in the 1990s. Over the years I also kept coming back to the work of photographers such as Stephen Shore, Gerry Johansson, Keld Helmer-Petersen and Jan Tove among others…  But I am also inspired by the work of other artists and poets too, and the way they express their relationship with their surroundings.

You are also the founder and editor of Another Place Magazine and Another Place Press, would you tell us when you first started this publication and why?

I started Another Place as an online blog roughly 5 or 6 years ago – it was really just intended to be a space to share the work of other photographers whose work inspired me, specifically work which explored our relationship with ‘place’… and photographers who were working on projects, rather than single images. I shared one project by a different photographer every week, and the blog soon gathered quite a following and began to receive regular submissions.

After 2 or 3 years of running the blog, I had the idea of publishing one or two of the projects I featured as small limited edition photobooks – I had experience in graphic design so it seemed a natural progression. And Another Place Press was born… just over 3 years ago, and now we’ve published over 25 titles! I never really set out to be a publisher, but I find that I love it… collaborating with a wide range of inspiring photographers, and seeing their different approaches to their work.

Is there a team behind Another Place Magazine & Press? 

I wish! No, it is all just me! 🙂 I do everything – editing Another Place Magazine, and then designing all the APP titles, working with photographers on editing & sequencing, overseeing print, all marketing & social media and then finally packaging & dispatching every book sold. Definitely some days I wish I had a team! 🙂

What is it you look for in photographers work when they submit projects to Another Place Magazine, a certain theme/style? 

I’m interested in photographic projects which explore our relationship with ‘place’… it could be anything from an individual’s exploration of their local woodland or river, right through to a journey through Arctic Russia… and anything in-between… so quite wide subject matter!

I wouldn’t say there is a specific style… I actively encourage a diverse range of styles. Probably the most important factor is that the work is well thought through… a cohesive body of work. I think quite a few projects which are submitted are good ideas, but the project feels like it hasn’t been completed, or the photographer has tried to quickly build a body of work around 3 or 4 strong images. I would always encourage photographers to take their time… projects do take time to work through properly. Don’t be in a hurry to send the work out there before it’s ready! 

Your personal work has successfully displayed in several exhibitions and publications. What advice do you have for aspiring photographers on how they can achieve this? 

My experience of exhibitions is more limited, but in terms of publications… I would echo what I said in the previous question. Don’t be in a hurry to submit work to publishers until you feel it is really ready. Also, look closely at the type of work certain publishers release… does your work fit in well? Could you honestly see a book of your work sitting within their catalogue? It’s tempting to just apply to every photobook publisher you can think of in the hope of one being interested, but I think you’re much more likely to be successful if you target the most suitable ones to the work that you produce.

But, before considering publications… whether being featured in magazines etc. or being published as a book, I would say concentrate on making work, work that fires you up… that you feel drawn strongly to make. Don’t rush it, keep editing, learning, and be open to the work taking new directions. If the work develops into something special then exhibitions and publications will come… 

I would also say that a very beneficial part of developing a project can been producing the work in book form, even as a dummy, as you go along – editing and sequencing a body of work can really help focus your mind on what you are doing and how it might sit together and be viewed. A very useful exercise even if you are not going on to publish the work at that stage.

Iain Sarjeant

Iain Sarjeant is currently Editor & Publisher at Another Place.

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Interview by Ella Cousins

If you enjoyed this interview by Ella, check out her last one with British Documentary and Portrait photographer, Laura Pannack: https://thesouthwestcollective.co.uk/laura-pannack-talks-photograph/