Article by WB
WB: Hi Gilleam, your work first came to my attention through your Instagram feed. After seeing your pictures there and then seeing the images your taking in your final year at the Hague they have a different feel, would that be a fair comment?
GT: Hi, thanks for reaching out. That would be correct. Most of the images I post on Instagram are visual notes taken with my phone. I started doing this about March last year, as an exercise to keep myself busy when I’m not working on bigger projects for school. However, I’m noticing more and more that these photographs are impacting the way I photograph in my bigger projects, which honestly I find really interesting. It’s slowly becoming something I would like to incorporate into other projects. Not only the visual aspect, but also the strategy of working so intuitively. I think the work that is mostly influenced by the work on Instagram is an ongoing project Paradise, Photographs of scooters and other things.
WB: I really enjoy looking at photographers who put out different styles and mix things up on a project to project basis, is this something you are interested in?
GT: Well yeah. I think it would be fair to say that I do try to photograph in a way that would fit the subject.But on the other hand I try not to think about it too much. Whenever I’m starting a new project I really like to dive in head first and really do what feels right at that moment and that would work for that specific project. There are many photographers that I admire that have one specific visual strategy, but I feel that I would get bored quickly if I had to work in a similar way.
WB: Mafia Music the body of work you are showing for your end of year show, has a lot of ‘Gangsta’ stereotype moments, was this something intentional?
GT: Definitely. Mafia Music started out with my fascination for Hip-Hop in general. A few years ago I came across some of the rappers from the project on Youtube. I was mostly interested in the way these men were creating their identity and how they were portraying themselves, which I found almost identical to what I saw in American Hip-Hop videos. It reminded me of when I started skating when I was 14. I had this notion that there was a sort of code of all the aspects that make you a skater, from the music to the baggy jeans to even wearing a beanie. (You can imagine how I looked skating with a beanie on in 30 degrees celsius). This was mostly inspired by the skateboard magazines that I would buy, and through television. I found it important to include these stereotypical moments, like the hand-signs, bottles of Hennesy and the guns. It seemed like the obvious thing to do since my fascinations were mostly towards how these men created an image of themselves through what they have seen and experienced throughout the years.
WB: How have your 3 years at the Hague been so far and what is the most important element you’ve learnt that you will be taking with you into your 4th year?
GT: Before starting my studies at The Royal Academy of Art, I was mostly working as a fashion photographer. In the first year I got my first course in Documentary photography and Photojournalism, and that changed the way I looked at my images for a great deal. As I went along I created my own notion of what Documentary photography is, and I realised, also with the work I post on Instagram, that I’m slowly going back to embracing what I did before starting my studies here. I like how my work incorporates stylised images, while still being considered documentary photography. I think this has to do with trusting your gut feeling. If it feels right, go for it.
WB: Do you have any idea what direction you will take your work in your final year? Any project plans as of yet?
GT: I wish I knew, haha. I’m already stressing thinking about my graduation project. Lately I’ve been fascinated by the Saudi Arabian car culture. One idea is to continue with my 2nd year project Born in a Bugatti which we did in Warsaw during a project week. I’ve photographed these boys in front of their houses, but I would love to gain access to the inside, and continue from there.