As part of Confluence Magazine’s sponsorship of the inaugural Storytellers Photo Conference, we are proud to bring you a series of interviews by the keynote speakers and teachers headlining this year’s Conference. In keeping with Confluence Magazine’s focus on long term projects, editor Katie Jett Walls asked each of the keynote speakers about the personal work that they shoot. Our next interview is with fine art and family documentary photographer Niki Boon.
Tell me about a long-term personal project. How long have you worked at it?
Niki Boon: I guess the personal project I can talk the most to is my children.
I have photographed them to some extent, most of their life, but it has only been in the last 5 or so years, with the decision not to have them at school, that I have had more intent with my pictures.
Because I am with them most of the time, I have the freedom to choose when I make pictures through the days and weeks… and this is usually when I find something intriguing happening. Sometimes that turns into a good picture, but often it doesn’t, either way I am happy to have the visual record of that moment in time, and one day I hope my kids will be too.
Why is the project important personally? Who else might find project interesting.
Niki Boon: Apart from the fact that they are my kids, and that some sort of record of their childhood is probably a good idea …. I think that the pictures have become important to me in ways that I never expected …. In some way they reflect my own childhood, and they also have elements of values I hold in high regard but had not really thought or identified with before. So, I guess some self-discovery … also they have helped me reflect on our day to day, and the way we choose to live with our children.
Since putting my pictures up on social media channels it has been very interesting to me how they have sparked interest in others. Many people have asked questions about our decision to follow a self-led education and lifestyle with our children, people are also interested in our rural lifestyle , and it has even sparked questions about travel to our country, which is pretty cool…… so I guess there is wider range of people than I ever thought are interested in the pictures.
How has this project challenged you and helped you grow as a photographer?
The project has certainly been a challenge at times… but often the challenges were the very things that helped me grow…. I have certainly had times where I lost direction, and lost inspiration … but it was in these times that I went looking for answers, and they came in the form of communities I found online, from other artists I found, online and in books.
Sometimes I could work through or past these times by pushing myself to keep shooting … but sometimes it is more from trusting in the process and putting the camera down for a time (although this was a far harder learning to accept)…the challenge of trying to create pictures that are interesting to me, from a scene infront of me that doesn’t seem very interesting to me …and forcing myself to look harder, work harder to see more, or see differently to try and make a picture…I am no expert with this, but it has happened, more than once, that a picture that has come from times like this has become a favourite of mine….
Other challenges have come from times of negative feedback from others … which has floored me and hit my confidence hard more than a few times, and also from my own self-doubt with my work … constantly present and always a major hurdle of mine.