I was interviewed by PDN about some of the choices I’ve had to make while covering stories, access and connecting to subjects, and responsibilities to my audience. Along with David Guttenfelder, Nina Berman, Victor J. Blue, and fellow VII photographer Sim Chi Yin, our interview excerpts can be found in PDN‘s July issue. The full interviews can be found here.
From the interview:
PDN: When you’re first making a connection with a potential subject, or seeking access to their homes and their private lives, what kind of relationship are you trying to establish? Is it important to keep a certain distance and formality to the relationship, and if so, why?
EK: It depends on the nature of my story or project, but if I am seeking a deep intimacy and if the subject’s story takes place in the interiors of their home, etc, then I try to spend as much time as possible with them inside their homes. I always try to clarify from the beginning what my needs are and show explicit respect for their boundaries. Some of this has changed over the years. Earlier in my career, I pushed harder for this kind of access, but over time I’ve learned to finesse these situations and gain the intimacy but show more respect for their privacy. Sometimes it works out beautifully and other times it’s tough and very uncomfortable. Particularly when dealing with other cultures with either traditional or religious norms that make this kind of access to private spaces very strange and unacceptable. It is important to keep a certain distance, as this relationship is quite unnatural, photographer to subject, but you can make it a beautiful experience if you stay aware, sensitive and clear of the boundaries. Some subjects just click and the relationship is very warm, friendly and I move from a formal approach to a much more relaxed and friendly relationship.