Emma Critchley - A collapse of time.

Q: When did you start your practice as a photographer?

I would say that my practice as a photographer started whilst I was doing my photography degree at the University of Brighton in 2001.

Q: What’s the reason you get interested in underwater photography?

I actually learnt to dive before I starting taking pictures. Because of this passion, I raised money to go on a marine conservation project to Indonesia between my first and second year at university. I bought a cheap, second-hand underwater camera to take with me and as I went diving 3 times a day, spent hours underwater playing with it. What fascinated me was the experience of taking pictures in this space – watching the way that everything moved and behaved in a very different way and particularly my own experience of being a part of this world.

Q: And instead of the view from underwater, why you started to photograph people(portraits) underwater?

I think this came from the initial interest of my own experience of being in water and wanting to explore this with others. I’m interested in this place, where as humans we don’t belong.

Q: Through these practices, what did you dig out from them? Why these underwater portraits that keeps your interests?

What I find fascinating is different people’s responses to being in the water. It is a space that evokes an extreme range of emotions in people. The water can stir feelings of absolute terror or be used in a meditative way, as a place to escape from the everyday. I am interested in the physical and mental realignment that occurs when our senses shift in the water and the breath becomes suspended.

Q: From printed photograph to loop video, what makes you change the way you’re doing it? Do you take photography now from a different point of view? What’s the motive for you to make videos? Will you consider your video works as photography? If so, why?

The shift to working with moving image was quite a natural one, as my work became more temporal. Over the last few years I have focussed on the breath and duration, looking at the underwater environment as a space where the breath is denied. I’m not sure whether I see my video work as photography, but there is a definite symbiosis between the still and moving image work due to the locked-off framing and single, repeated action.

Although there is an obvious connection between the two, I think that photography and video still operate differently as they create different ways for the viewer to engage with the work. I sometimes start work thinking about it photographically, but then end up shooting it as a video, as this feels more appropriate or relevant to the idea.

Q: What are the accounts/elements for you to recognize it is photography?

For me, I love the stillness of photography and the way this allows a certain engagement with the work. There is often a real sense of presence, a collapse of time, which silently resonates, particularly with the physicality of the photographic print.

- Watch "Single Shared Breath" online: http://www.emmacritchley.com/work/single-shared-breath/

- Originally published in FOAM #29: What's Next, a search into the future of photography