I’m still trying to remember the first time I met Fred Fraser face-to-face. He and his partner Liz Dungate created many wonderful images for a publication I was involved with, Fame’d Magazine. Our communication was pretty much through email and perhaps the odd phone call, but at some point, we were finally in the same place at the same time.
Fraser was, and in many ways still is, a mystery. He is a talented artist who prefers to keep his private life just that – private. Mystery has always been a big draw for me as an interviewer, so I was honoured when he agreed to openly share his life and work for an article I was writing for Schon Magazine in London. I wish I could say I nailed it, but it was one of those articles that took some serious re-working to get right. It happens.
Over the last decade of following his career, I have been inspired by how Fraser constantly pushes himself as a photographer – always striving to explore new ideas, techniques and artistic directions. My favourite so far is a series of images he created using a vintage process call wet plate photography. Each photograph is a classic black and white image created using a real glass plate treated with chemicals. There is no film and no negative. Posing for these portraits requires patience as it takes time for the magic to happen. Recently, he held a small gallery showing with 30 of these images. It took my breath away.
While I am hoping to have one of these unique pieces of art gracing the walls of my home in the future, for now I will just have to satisfy myself with admiring them from afar.
Now, let me introduce you to Fred Fraser.
1) What is your current career(s) – paid and unpaid?
I work in film, video and photography. Film and video are relatively new pursuits – I have a few years of experience there, but I have been doing photography for over 25 years. Moving away from commercial photography and towards art is also a fairly new thing.
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2) Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?
Many people have let me know that they feel my work is “dark”, “creepy” or “weird” and that came as a bit of a surprise to me. I don’t think of myself as a dark person and no one has ever remarked to me before that I personally exhibit any of those traits. I never set out to make dark images (emotionally dark that is) but after being told my photos looked like the work of a psychopath (a bit extreme I think) and licensing an image for the cover of Nightmare Magazine I have since considered that I may have a dark side and it may leak out in my photographs. However, I always answer that it’s a matter of perspective. Salvador Dali’s work was weird and creepy. Next to it my photos look quite wholesome, in my opinion.
3) What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?
Actually, the less people know about me the happier I am, generally. I really prefer that people love or hate my photos on their own merits and leave me out of the equation. Selfies are a very rare thing.
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4) Highest moment so far?
Being with Liz Dungate. I don’t think that experience has peaked yet and it’s been 15 years. Her talent and creativity staggers me on an ongoing basis.
5) What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?
Right now, I should be out in the shop hanging prop bullets for a shoot happening tomorrow! But, I’m a third of the way through and I don’t like the way it’s looking so it’s a do-over. Typical, really.
The next six months are mostly a mystery in terms of the details, but they will involve learning to gum print in four colours while focusing on my work made with alternative film processes. I’ll keep up with my wet plate work as well as I can. Finding willing subjects is usually the holdup. There will also likely be a back road motorcycle tour for me once the snow is out of the mountains.
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Chiaroscuro (obviously), images with a narrative, music with charisma, movies with depth of character, forbidding landscapes, beauty, athleticism, extraordinary intelligence and silence.
7) How do you personally define success?
8) Who do you admire?
Talented, creative people.
Fred Fraser’s Links:
- Art & Design
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