Nigel Shafran is a young British photographer, although he prefers to photograph subjects from his personal life including his wife and suburban garages he started out working for fashion and architecture magazines around the 1980’s. His photographs highlight the way in which we order our domestic surroundings and how everyday objects and environments can reveal lifestyle and character. He said in an interview with Charlotte Cotton he was drawn to collections of things; stacked, labelled, boxed and pilled up. He said ‘how we place things can be a telling of how and what we are’. From his work it seems Shafran is highly influenced by everyday life this can be shown throughout his collections; for example featuring in Tate Britain’s ‘how we are’; photographing Britain in 2007 as well as his charity shop series that is part of an on-going exploration of the idea ‘ordinary London’.
Throughout his photographs there is a sense of documenting a passing. Even though his work of photographing everyday life may seem mundane (e.g his series titled ‘washing up’) he builds pleasing situations from them creating the sense of natural order and beauty amongst chaos. Shafran chooses to concentrate his work on what he knows best-his own life- from photographing his personal relationship of his wife to his most familiar spaces and objects.
One area of Shafrans work that interested me was his series on ‘washing up’ in 2000, here he documents the act of washing the dishes in his apartment kitchen. His observations of daily life give us a glimpse of this frequent chore from someone else’s perspective. I feel his work is characterised by the quiet observations of life.
Shafran took these photos with a large format camera using only available light; in most cases he also used long exposures. The resulting images provide a personal diary of a certain place and time. Formal elements such as the bright green washing bowl, yellow gloves, stainless steel colander reoccur throughout the series, highlighted through changes in light and atmosphere.
In his interview with Charlotte Cotton Shaffran comments ‘sometimes I see things that are interesting, things on the edge that aren’t meant to be there like a soap packet or litter things we can relate to and hold everydayness’ his main reasoning behind taking his photographs is too keep the past alive. I like the concept of his work taking photographs of settings relatable to the audience I think this makes it more enjoyable for viewers as the situations he creates are common amongst most. Initially when I first looked at Shafrans ‘washing up’ collection I wasn’t overly keen but after researching further and understanding the personal concept I can see how the audience could connect with them especially everyone has washing up. Specifically I like how from what could be seen as a plain situation has been photographed to highlight natural beauty.