UK photographer Russell Coleman has a thing for blood and cutlery. Though much of his work portrays something more subtle in its seductive darkness, there's no denying his enthusiasm for the macabre. An accomplished designer, graphic artist and photographer, Coleman spoke with us about his visual background, artistic process and appreciation for amputation.
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gallery slide show.
Sez G: Where in the UK are you based? Do you travel much to photograph or attend any fetish events?
Russell Coleman: I'm based in the Southwest, in Somerset. I'm just
recently back from Berlin and the German
Fetish Ball. It was great to meet up with some incredible models and
photographers, and, as always, to keep an eye out for more props. The next
planned event will be the Skin Two Rubber Ball in October.
EZ: Tell me how you originally got into photography, and about the evolution of your subject matter.
RC: My interest in photography started around the age of 10. I had an uncle who was a keen amateur photographer, and there was something about his camera that just simply fascinated me. Not long afterwards, I managed to save enough money to buy my own SLR. Whilst at college studying for my design degree, I also studied photography, and over the last 20 years, I have been shooting as much as possible.
I try to keep my work moving forward and to develop organically. I don't feel I've made any conscious decisions in the direction my work has taken, although recent and current subject matter is in part a revisiting of the sort of work I was doing 10 years ago.
EZ: What does the title of your website, Root
of Silence, mean? What about Razor
RC: The title Root of Silence is inspired by the lyrics of Skinny Puppy and the writings of French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Silence is a thing that can be shown but not said, a non-verbal language and the source, the foundation, the root (if you like) within each person. "The eye and ear of the heart has its reasons that the mind can never know."
Razor Blade Sky, on the other hand, was a simple solution to an immediate problem, which my iTunes playlist solved for me.
EZ: Do you have any muses or regular models? What's your relationship like with your models?
RC: I hope to be inspired in some way by every model I work with.
For the last 8 months and with only 2/3 exceptions a model that has played
a major role in my work is Ulorin
Vex. We share a lot of similar interests and ideas, and we're always
looking for opportunities to put a good shoot together.
EZ: How much preparation occurs before a shoot and how much is spontaneous? How much direction do you give your models?
RC: None, a little, a lot, hopefully more than is necessary, occasionally not enough…. It really depends on a number of factors. Sometimes things cry for immediacy and experimentation; other times I really want to go all out and make things "just right." This can sometimes take months of planning whilst trying to source props and track down an appropriate location.
I purchased a pair of tights in January, and it took 4 months until I found the right location to use them for a shoot. Parcels arrive with various props and clothing at least once a week…in fact, one arrived earlier today carrying a medical laryngoscope. I just keep my fingers crossed that things arrive before I know I need them.
EZ: You have a gallery of Fuel
spokesmodel hotties. What's your connection to Fuel?
RC: Love the guys at Fuel! Richie and Hannah are the best! I had worked with one of their spokemodels Von a couple of times when Fuel were scheduled to be at a fairly local car show. They invited me along to shoot with the girls between shows, and I have continued to stalk them for the last quarter of last year. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up with them again in a few months to see how their new shows are coming along.
EZ: You also have a blood gallery filled with sexy psychopaths. How did this theme develop for you?
RC: It developed in part from my interest in medical equipment and macabre imagery. I had a fairly well planned shoot lined up with 2 models, a make-up artist, a superb location and a stigmata idea. The shoot degenerated into one model in a sleazy hotel with amputation saws and a bucket of blood. It was great fun! Shortly after that, a number of other models saw the images and were interested in joining in. I'm happy to encourage them…
EZ: Do you shoot digital or film? How much computer retouching do you do?
RC: I started shooting digital full time about two years ago when I just couldn't justify the cost of shooting film anymore. I just sold my last film SLR, since I can't see any going back.
I try to do as little retouching as possible and hopefully as much as is needed. I used to do a lot of digital retouching in my day job, where I was often restoring historical and archive material. I could be spending 2 days on one image. Now, I try my best not to have to do that much retouching in my own work.
EZ: Speaking of the "day job," you have a BA in graphic design. How much professional design do you do? Is photography a hobby or a career?
RC: Professionally, I've been working in some form of creative capacity for the last 12 years as a typesetter, a designer, a computer graphic artist and a photographer. I've spent the last 4 years in web design and development, which regularly calls for both my design and photography skills to come into practice. I'm still trying to keep the photography as much a hobby as possible at present, though it does tend to permeate most of my life.
EZ: Do you have any personal fetishes?
RC: Many little ones. Looking around, though, at the moment, you might be fooled into thinking they were to do with medical equipment and blood.
EZ: Are you saying they aren't?
RC: Well, hopefully I will be receiving more parcels with "cutlery" on the Customs Label that, when opened, reveal a variety of amputation equipment! That was probably one of the defining moments of 2004 for me and I hope for some more for 2005.
EZ: What's coming up for you in the future?
RC: There's nothing set in stone at the moment. Most of the work I have planned isn't fully realized yet, so for now I'm happy experimenting, collaborating with other people and trying to get as much kickass stuff shot as possible.
The Skin Two Rubber Ball coming up in October is going to offer some opportunities to work with some of the great international talent. And some long awaited updates to the galleries on my site are due within the next few days. There will be more latex…. and definitely more blood and "cutlery."
To journey through the darkness and learn more about Russell Coleman, go to www.RootOfSilence.com.
Russell Coleman - by Sez G.