In this weeks Interview, we are joined by the superb Photographer and Co founder of Photo Scratch, Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

You say that you are “interested in the influence of place, and the shape of it around us, as we follow in the footsteps of those who came before.” Could you please elaborate on what this means to you as a photographer and how it influences you’re thinking when picture making?

This is about how I experience and encounter a place, and I feel that’s important to me when I’m taking photographs. I listen as much as look and am emotionally present when I photograph.

You are the co-founder of Photo Scratch alongside Phil Le Gal, a “bi-monthly networking and social night for documentary photographers to showcase work-in-progress projects and gain feedback”. Could you tell us how Photo Scratch was formed and what was the reason for its creation?

Photo Scratch came into being because a group of my friends and fellow students from the MA at LCC would meet every so often to look at each other’s work and offer constructive feedback and encouragement. This would often take place at a workspace I had in Elephant and Castle run by an arts organisation called Hotel Elephant. At the site there was a large room which wasn’t being used for studios, and the Hotel Elephant’s managers kindly said that any studio user could make use of the empty space in the basement for one-off events free of charge. So, inspired by the practice that theatre makers use, of showing a short excerpt of a performance and getting audience feedback, we transposed it and merged it with what we were already doing as a group of photographers. Anyone can come along to see the work. The participants who share their work-in-progress apply to be part of it, which is free to do with any documentary project which is still in the process of being made. We’ve since taken Photo Scratch to other venues too including The Photographers’ Gallery and Four Corners Gallery.

Interview with Photo Scratch Founder Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

I myself recently took part in your Bristol edition of Photo Scratch at the RPS, which was your first event outside of London. It is a fact that the photography “Industry” is primarily based in London, but as proven in Bristol, there is an almighty wealth of talent in other places. Do you plan to host more of these events outside of the city and if so where?

It would be wonderful to take Photo Scratch out of London on a regular basis. As it’s a free event and bits of funding we get only covers costs, it’s not that easy for us to go on the road unless there is funding involved. If any venues outside would like to host us and cover our costs, myself and the team would be very happy to do this more often – please get in touch! We really enjoyed running the pop-up Photo Scratch at the new headquarters of The Royal Photographic Society in Bristol. We are already booked to host another one there in 2020 and the ambition is it can be an annual event there. I would love to take Photo Scratch further afield, to Liverpool, Aberystwyth, Glasgow…to name but a few places. In the last year we’ve had applications from photographers even further away – Bulgaria, Noway, Germany. It’s a question of time and funds.

Interview with Photo Scratch Founder Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

What is the ultimate goal of Photo Scratch and what is its long-term future?

The nature of a Photo Scratch event probably won’t change very much in the future. Each time we do it we find a small way to make it even better, but broadly it is the magic of getting a group of people in a room together talking about photography and creative projects which make it work.

We are currently looking at different streams of potential funding and how we can offer an annual grant for a photographer to complete a project.

We’ve had so many people asking, why don’t you monetise it?! As far as I can see that would immediately change the nature of what we’re offering. I’m really proud of running an event which is open to all with an interest, and is run by photographers.

You studied a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of communication. Was studying a Master’s Degree beneficial for you and what did you gain from it?

The Masters at LCC was incredibly beneficial. It felt like a huge undertaking and I spent most of the course feeling completely out of my depth. The teachers and the peer group community made it a really nourishing experience. At least that’s the residual memory! At the time I think I was in a constant state of flux between worry and creative fulfillment. Any higher education is a commitment and the challenges associated with it can’t be underestimated – from the cost, to the time you have to put in to it, and the reading around a subject as well as the practice itself. I really love learning and collaboration, and did the MA part-time over two years to make it work financially so I could work at the same time.

Your work in progress project The Green Ribbon explores “an area of land that spans the breadth of Europe from the Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle to the Black and Adriatic Seas in the south”. When undertaking a project that geographically covers hundreds, if not thousands of miles, how do you actually pick a location to photograph? Is it research-based, or do you just travel wherever you feel?

A combination of both. I did extensive research before hand and whilst on the road, and then would follow ideas, people, pathways which presented themselves as I made the work.

The land that you are documenting has been historically divided by the East and West, Communism and Capitalism. As a spectator, are those cultural and social differences still evident today and as a photographer, does this provide a challenge when making work in this environment?

The differences are certainly still evident today, but I would say that differences exist in all cultures, so specifically this East/West European divide is interesting but not necessarily any more challenging than roaming out of one’s own town.

Interview with Photo Scratch Founder Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

What do you think the final outcome of the project? What do you want to say about the work?

I’m looking forward to sharing the work with people – letting the photographs speak for themselves and finding out what people will bring with them when the encounter the work.

I would say that you have the potential to be a key, influential female photographer in the United Kingdom. Do you think that female photographers are fairly represented? There are a lot of discussions online about women not having equal opportunities to men in photography, what are your opinions on the subject?

Photographs are something we, as people going about our daily lives, look at nearly every day. It is sobering when you discover that the majority of photographs in the news cycles are taken by white men. It’s not that the perspective of a white man isn’t valid, but it’s completely imbalanced and unrepresentative of the world to see through their eyes only.

The landscape of the industry does seem to be slowly shifting. I’m not interested in silencing people, but interested in hearing more, seeing more perspectives – local stories photographed by local photographers, from all over the world. I’m really proud to be part of the Women Photograph database, and all the work that the team does to highlight inequalities in the industry. When I speak to Picture Editors, it does feel like they are keen to champion a wider range of perspectives when commissioning work, but the pictures that go to all the media outlets through newswires are still overwhelmingly photographed by men.

Interview with Photo Scratch Founder Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

If you could change one thing about the photography industry, what would it be? What would you improve?

Access would be easier for all – cameras would be cheaper, and easier and cheaper to repair; film stock and development would be cheaper. But, I am also becoming more conscious of the waste the industry creates – it’s a conversation which hasn’t quite emerged yet amongst photographers – but, the chemicals used, the processes in creating our work, developing film, building cameras… what is the environmental impact of all this? How can the industry be better?

What do you think the future of photography is? I run the SWC and you run Photo Scratch, how should we position ourselves in an ever-changing photographic world?

We need to look outwards. Photography is part of the wider world. We need to participate and listen and respond.

Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

Founder of Photo Scratch, a bi-monthly networking and social night for documentary photographers to show case work-in-progress projects and gain feedback.

Website: http://www.hannakatrina.co.uk/

Instagram: @hannakatrina_photo

Interview by Collective Owner Samuel Fradley.

If you enjoyed this piece, check out a Collective article: https://thesouthwestcollective.co.uk/talking-about-submission-fees-contests-and-portfolio-reviews-in-photography/