Ellen Rogers

Interview with The Photographers Gallery

Interview with The Photographers Gallery

Nicolette Clara Iles’ interviews photographer Ellen Rogers 

Where does your inspiration come from, is it a physical/mental manifestation, like dreams for example, or visual in the form of being inspired by artwork or nature?

That's the big question isn't it?! And I think everyone struggles with the next leap of an idea they are happy with. Who knows what consciousness is, least my ideas pertaining to art? When I'm looking for an idea mostly it comes from what I've been doing recently. The most recent idea came from the fact that I was becoming fixated on remembering a painting on an ex boyfriend's bedroom wall, so whilst trying to put together an idea for a composition... that silly painting popped into my head, as much as anything it was sort of funny to me, so I arranged it around that. Funnily enough I was just writing about it for my blog too. 

How does your creative process affect the overall outcome of your work?

I suppose in the way I just described. I always had a general theory that if I had to try too hard at something it wasn't coming from me organically, therefore it would look forced or unnatural somehow. So these days I only really shoot when something has made itself known to me and I think it needs to see the light. I don't do commissions anymore, so I guess that's impacted on the creative process I was used to working within before; when I was more of a jobbing fashion photographer. 

How important is the role of the muse in your work, is it a collaborative process when you work with a model?

For me it's been imperative, especially in the past few years. I had pretty crippling depression and lost the ability to work with people I didn't know. So I just couldn't shoot agency models and work with a new team like I used to, so Ephyra my friend was my only outlet for a while. Although I seem to be coming out of that phase now, I've still not managed to work with new people. So the muse for me was and is maybe my only vehicle for communication, albeit practical in this instance. However I'm eternally grateful to Ephyra for being a rock to me during this period, I would consider her not only one of my best friends but something more entwined than that even. 

Are there any key themes or feelings you'd like your photography to convey?

I suppose the one consistency for me from the beginning to current day is religion and spirituality. Not only am I in love with the imagery and myth of religion, but I also relate to the idea of transcendence of some kind via the means of art. I used to practice a way of image making with an ex where we would listen to music and make art, but music was specifically designed to elevate the consciousness. I suppose what I described earlier of letting my unconscious now make the decisions when I make art is a continuation of that, but an even more innocuous version. 

Are concepts critical to your photography or do you ever find an image comes spontaneously?

Concepts are more important to me these days I think, or least an over arching theme to a set of images. I'm certainly more conscious of what I am trying to convey now I'm not shooting commercially. I found it difficult to be honest and commercial at the same time. 

Would you give any advice to your younger self as an artist?

Yes, I suppose I would. No one has any control, and the good news is the control of life is out of your hands anyway. What will be, will always be. If I had of known and believed that at the beginning, I would have saved myself a great deal of angst when dealing with others.


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