For this instalment of 'behind the lens', we take a brief step away from analogue photography to pick the brain of Hannah Platt - Leeds-based documentary photographer and artist.
Her work documents the history and change of northern towns and cities whilst shining a light on the humour and joy that can be found at the core of these communities.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspires your work?
I’m Hannah, a photographer kicking about here in Leeds. I’ve got a keen interest in print, publishing and making. I have quite a natural and organic approach, I’m very drawn to playfulness - I’m always looking to create something people can lap up and enjoy. Whether that's something I find funny or something that sparks nostalgia or intrigue and I guess a lot of my ideas stem from everyday encounters and conversations I have.
How did you first get into photography?
It's always been something I’ve enjoyed, the quickness of image-making really lends itself to my impatient nature. I studied it at degree level at Leeds College of Art, yet I have been on my own journey with photography since then and I feel excited about where I am now and the potential of my practice.
Humour seems to be a running theme throughout your images of everyday life, is this something that is important to you?
Yes, definitely. I’m pleased that you can read that from my work. It's something that has happened quite naturally over time, but yes something I can’t ignore. It comes back to that idea of playfulness and taking joy from our surroundings. There's so much of it and I like to think my work encourages others to find it.
You've created a few photobooks now. What is it about presenting your work in a photobook that you enjoy rather than just creating prints?
For me, it's a couple of things. I actually love the journey of making photobooks - the editing, the sequencing, and all the experimenting that you have as an artist to create something physical, but mostly it's being able to guide people through your work the way you want it to be read.
Thinking of new ways to provoke feelings and enjoyment through design and materials really adds another layer to a project. There's something quite special about creating that moment too, holding space and time for that sharing.
Do you have any tips for anyone who would love to turn their work into a photobook?
Throw yourself in. Print your photos out, look at other photobooks, get yourself to art book fairs, talk to people about your ideas, experiment, and try anything and everything you want to. Even if it's just for you, nobody else needs to see it - you’ll learn a lot about yourself and your work just by playing.
One of your latest projects is a photobook called 'Nosey Parker'. How did this project come about?
Back in 2020 I self-published ‘Out of Order’, which was created from a body of work I’d been sat on for some time. After the success of that project, I was approached by Bristol-based publishers RRB Photobooks, who asked for me to join them as one of their photographers. Together we produced and published Nosey Parker in October 2022. RRB were a breath of fresh air to work with, they gave me full creative control and really allowed me to grow and learn along the way, I’ll always be very grateful for their approach as a publisher.
In Nosey Parker you revisit Peter Mitchell's Leeds, has he always been a big inspiration for your work and did you feel any pressure revisiting and reinterpreting areas he photographed?
I think anyone who lives and breathes Leeds will hold Peter's work dear to their heart, he’s of course someone I look up to and admire. I don’t feel the pressure too much. It's more of an honour to continue a collective archive of Leeds and I think that cross-over is something that's celebrated.
Signs and shop fronts feature heavily in your work, do you find yourself consciously on the lookout for interesting typography or is it something that naturally worked its way in to your images?
A bit of both. My eyes are always awake to silly shop names and witty approaches to businesses. I’m quite aware of my surroundings (nosey), and I try to travel on foot as much as I can so I’m open to those opportunities.
We read that you originally shot everything on film when you started out taking photos but now you choose to shoot things on your phone. For you personally, what are the pros and cons of each medium?
I’ll always admire the beauty of film and the intelligence that's applied to create with it. However, my iPhone allows for ease and speed, which is something I’ve learnt to love. All of my photos are taken on the go when I’m out and about and I really enjoy that approach. My work is also all about the poetics of a place and my phone also captures location information too, which I find really helpful. It's a no-brainer for me. Of course shooting on my phone comes with limitations of scale and resolution, meaning I have to think of alternative ways of working but that's part of the charm.
You can discover more of Hannah's work over on her website.