Agata Mayes, is currently finishing her Advanced Diploma of Photography at Photography Studies College. She recently was awarded AIPP Victorian Emerging Photographer of the Year 2018. She took some time out of her busy day to answer some questions about her journey so far:
Were you surprised by your win?
Yes, I didn’t expect it. Before I started at PSC, I used to shoot newborn but found it to be not creative enough and decided to take one year off to find a joy in my creative process again. I decided to be 100% honest with myself and create what is in my head; no boundaries, no expectations. I didn’t want to enter competitions at this stage and to be fair, I wouldn’t have entered if not for PSC. Entry to the awards was necessary as part of my course and I’m very grateful for the process and outcome
When did you decide you wanted to do photography?
Photography has been my passion since a very early age. As a child I watched my dad develop films in our bathroom and I was fascinated with this process. I had not considered photography as a profession at this stage. I graduated in Informatics in 2003 and started my career in the Aviation Sector. After a few years in a highly stressful environment I decided to completely change my life direction. I went back to my passions and photography has been my life ever since.
What inspires your images and ideas?
Concepts for my series comes from my huge interest in psychology and philosophy. My first series “Inside The Mind” was created to explore the sensation of unexplained, severe fear. My second series called ’Sleeping Humanity” was inspired by a book by Colin P.Sisson which portrays people being in a hypnotic state though their lives.
I read a lot and have music playing while I create. Having a written concept and visual diary is very important, along with music and no expectations. These all create a lovely creative flow. In being creative, its very important to figure out the “what” and “why”. The “how” is the last one and you will figure it out in the end. I tend to avoid looking at other artists for inspiration in concepts, other than things like tone, texture and colour.
Do you have a top “go to” if you have creative block?
Stop trying! Stop putting pressure on yourself! In my case blocks come from unresolved emotions and my perfectionism. I take a day off and calm myself if I need to.
How has studying helped you with your goals and image making?
The tutors at PSC are incredible. Neil Stanyer especially, helped me with the conceptual side of photography. I understood that creating beautiful images is not enough and he taught us to use photography as a medium to communicate. The tutors bring the best out of you instead of imposing you to do something. They embrace and encourage your style.
What have you loved most about studying photography and is it better than being self taught?
When you’re at school you know where you stand technically and you can test your skills in a real environment. It’s hard to be objective on your own and it is very easy to get bad habits which can be corrected at school. PSC feels homely as it’s a smaller community and you feel free to talk to everyone and get help. It’s so much better than being in a large school and not having easy access to your tutor. If you knock on the door they are there to help.
Where do you want to take your images to next? What are your ultimate goals?
My dream would be to be represented by galleries around the world. I want people to buy my work. Not specifically to have exhibitions but for galleries to sell it and to allow me to be creative. I am also planning to license my images and take commission projects as long is it will stay within integrity of my work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My younger self wouldn’t understand the advice anyway. She wouldn’t be ready. I don’t regret anything as everything happens for a reason and at the right time. I don’t agree with the terms “Fake it ‘till you make it” or “if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”. It can only take you to a very uncomfortable place where you don’t want to be, my younger self did that a lot. People will see through it anyway. I know it might sound cliche but be yourself and listen to your intuition.
We wish Agata all the best for her long and successful career in photography and look forward to following her progress.
You can meet Agata Mayes at our OPEN DAY 2018, Saturday 19 May 10-4pm 2018.