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Five Questions with the winner of the BJP’s International Photography Award, Dominic Hawgood

This week’s five questions are with Dominic Hawgood; a recent MA photography graduate from the Royal College of Art. His series Under the influence explores evangelical Christianity in London and focuses on the theatricality in the deliverance and exorcism. Under the Influence has been well received  by numerous photography prizes including Source Cord Prize, the Art Catlin Guide and it has recently been selected as the  winning series for The British Journal of Photography International Photography Award; as a result there will be an exhibition at the TJ Boulting gallery next month. We have been working closely with Dominic on the production of this exhibition and caught up with him this week to find out more.

Can you describe what initially got you interested in photography?

I’ve always been very creative and continuously worked on producing artwork of various kinds form a young age, starting out with drawing and progressing to photography in my teens.  I cannot remember ever considering anything other than a route involving art so it’s just a natural progression, never a decision.


Could you describe how the aesthetic decisions and installation of the final pieces underpin the ideas behind Under the Influence?

The aesthetics of my work are at the crossovers between advertising, art and technology.  I literally took apart and looked closely at the way churches were merchandising deliverance and exorcism and rebuilt this visually, using the language of advertising to sell my artistic ideas.


Your recent series Under the Influence explores evangelical Christianity especially amongst the African community in London, was it difficult obtaining access to photograph this community?

I spent a considerable amount of time speaking with pastors based all around London. It was a frustrating experience, but similarly interesting as the reaction was overwhelming one of suspicion, concern and skepticism. Conversations ended abruptly, people became permanently unreachable and questions were met with silence. I can only speculate about the reasoning for this response that seemed to contrast the very public promotion of deliverance. In the end it was a specific church that I found most inspiring, and this became the focus for Under the Influence.  In answer to your question, yes it was difficult to obtain access.


You have been selected as a finalist in many photography competitions and awards; what would your advice be for anybody studying photography now?

Consider a route that you might like to take and find a way to get there.  Photography has changed a lot recently, it’s being combined in creative ways with other media, and it’s a welcome change….. embrace these new opportunities and new technologies.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I need to be in a position  where I’m able to comfortably support my own practice and produce work the way I envisage, and applying my artistic skills commercially may well assist with this.  Presently I’m trying to build a team, finding collaborators and put in place a good support system to enable such things to happen.


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Interviewer: Kayung Lai

Find out more about Dominic Hawgood

More information on the British Journal of Photography’s International Photography Award