Ben Gore’s Here & There captures the difficult transition from youth to adulthood. The coming-of-age zine, consisting of 22 black and white photographs which jolt between high-contrast symbols of maturity and adolescence, explores an inevitable limbo period of self-reflection, conflicting ideas and overwhelming desire to figure it all out.
Here Gore discusses the processes of ‘zine making and the importance of self-promotion.
TRIP: When did you start photographing?
Ben Gore: I started shooting photos when I was around 16 when I got a little digital point and shoot for my birthday. I began shooting photos of my friends skating when I was too tired or injured to skate myself. Over time I started shooting them on the way to the session or hanging out afterwards and gradually I was shooting more and more of what I found around me. I think skating informed my way of shooting more than anything. When you're skating around your constantly looking out for something unusual to skate or a crack in the pavement that you might catch your wheels on. That seemed to translate to my photography in that I'd constantly be ready to investigate something that caught my eye.
TRIP: Did you study?
Ben Gore: I graduated from a Photography course at Nottingham Trent in 2012. I really enjoyed my time at university. I spent most of my time there exploring the city, skating and shooting photos. I got exposed to a huge range of work and perspectives in photography. I had the time to experiment with my photography and find out what I wanted to shoot and how I wanted to shoot it.
TRIP: What got you in self-publishing and putting your own ‘zines together?
Ben Gore: I love books and having a physical copy of something someone has put the time and effort in to make. I wanted to make a zine so I had a physical copy of my photos to give to people. The first zine I made was Concrete Canvas which I made for a book-making project. Originally it was simply meant to be a series of skate photos. My tutor didn't understand the point so I wrote a piece of text to accompany the photos as an explanation of my perspective of skating and it's relationship with public space. I really liked the format because I was able to use the structure to create a narrative with the sequencing of a collection of photos.
TRIP: Tell us more about Here & There – What is the overarching theme behind it?
Ben Gore: Here & There was shot over about a year from summer 2012 to summer 2013 and it's about coming out of uni as a confused young adult. You're no longer a child and you're not really a grown up. It's a point in your life where you have to try and figure out your place in the world and what you really want to be doing with yourself. I was looking forwards and backwards in time to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. I was thinking a lot about bad habits I should grow out of and good habits to grow into.
Here & There is the darker sister zine to Fried Brains which was shot over a similar timeframe and focuses instead on finding freedom in youth.
TRIP: What struck me when looking through Here & There is the layout of the photographs from page to page. On almost every spread there are opposing shots of maturity and youth, order and play. Was this intentional?
Ben Gore: The idea behind the zine was to explore the life in the limbo between childhood and adulthood. I wanted to try and show that conflict as much as possible. I filled the zine with high contrast images with the intention that the light and dark were symbols of age and youth and in that way you could visually see that clash of ideas.
TRIP: How do you approach the ‘story-telling’ aspect of your ‘zines?
Ben Gore: Most of my zines hinge on the idea of time so the first step is usually figuring out where I want to begin the story. Then I just play around and figure out what feels right. Which pictures feel right where. Usually the zines are about a certain time of transition so I plot the zines around a noticeable change in my circumstances.
My hope is that when I look back on all my zines, each will serve as a chapter in a wider story about how my life has changed. People are in a constant state of flux and each photo-zine is a portrait of a particular time in my life; where I was, who I was with, and what I saw around me.
TRIP: When putting a ‘zine together, what comes first? The idea for the ‘zine or the photographs that eventually fill it?
Ben Gore: I'll shoot for a few months then start experimenting with the photos and seeing what pictures work together. I like to go out shooting with no idea in mind and see what I come up with when the rolls get developed. From that I'll figure out a theme that ties everything together and I'll keep shooting with that rough idea in mind. I don't plan shoots, I just always keep my camera on me and make sure to take a photo whenever something catches my eye. I'll keep shooting and playing with the sequence of the images until the zine feels right as a whole. I try and stay patient not to push out something half-baked. I tend to juggle a few projects at a time to keep myself from getting bored with seeing the same images too often.
I'm currently in the early stages of putting together a new photo-zine, about life after the events of Fried Brains and Here & There, which will focus on my move from home to a houseshare with mates in Brighton. Essentially it's the next step in my move towards adulthood and will reflect what that has looked like for me. It doesn't quite feel ready yet so I'll sit on it for a while and see what I shoot in the meantime.
TRIP: You’re on the ball when it comes to getting your ‘zines out there. How important is self-promo for up-and-coming photographers?
Ben Gore: I think self-promo is really important for up-and-coming photographers. For me it's a case of trying to get your work into the hands of as many people as possible. I want to share my photos and stories and it's important to get the word out about your work so people can find you. The internet opens you up to a huge audience and enables you to connect with people you would never come across otherwise. I've been able to trade and speak with some great creative people by getting my name out there, trying to be pro-active and contacting people. I compulsively make things and I'd like my work to be seen by people I respect creatively so I can share what I've made with others who've done the same.