London-based photographer Thomas Bertie Taylor takes a different look at the world via abstract images that pick out and highlight mundane details.
You don't need to travel far to take incredible photos. Just look at the work of Thomas Bertie Taylor, who splits his time between London and Brighton and manages to find new, entrancing takes on these well-worn haunts. By playing around with compositions and focus, Thomas has a knack for presenting the familiar in a new light and making you reappraise supposedly mundane details.
In the surreal world of Thomas's photos, everything from a person washing a car windscreen to food being handled at a seafood market takes on a strange new energy. Even familiar locations like Brighton Beach feel new and alive, and a reflection in a glass fragment invites the viewer to engage with the image and create their own background story.
Thomas's journey to taking these photos began when he was 21, and he received a digital camera from his mum for Christmas. "I went out and took some photos, and when I came back, I was told I had 'an eye for it' by my parents," he tells Creative Boom.
"I took photos on and off over the next few years, but it wasn't until my grandfather started getting ill that I began to take it more seriously. He had Alzheimer's disease, and I started taking abstract pictures to try and understand how he might have felt. I guess it was my way of processing what was happening, and I did an exhibition with the photos."
After meeting other photographers through Instagram, Thomas was further inspired to pursue his craft. Once, a friend suggested that he get a 50mm lens, his work completely changed. "I did a lot of travelling throughout Europe and America and documented all my travels on camera," he adds. "I was often more drawn to abstract or mundane things than taking typical holiday photo snaps.
"I then got into analogue photography and became almost addicted to film. I really enjoy the whole process of shooting on film; there is something almost meditative about it."
Inspired by the works of Saul Leiter, whose abstract photographs are "almost like paintings" to Thomas, it's clear that off-kilter compositions are his preferred approach. "There's also an American photographer that I follow on Instagram called Michael Mccluskey, whose cinematic style I like too."
But if there's one thing Thomas is drawn to above all else, it's mundane scenes and situations. This is because he thinks photography is a great way to find beauty in the things you may often overlook. "It's also a great way to teach you to look closer," he adds. "I also like composing cinematic scenes that look like they've come out of a film or creating shots that express an idea I have in mind."
Thomas's portfolio spans both digital and film photography, with each medium offering its own perks. "Shooting digital is quick and easy. You can take as many shots as you wish," he says. "When shooting on film, I have to be more considered in my approach as I know I have a limited amount of film available, so every shot is precious."
He adds: "I usually find that one in ten images on film tends to work well. I have found that there is an extra quality with film that you can't get with digital, an extra fullness in the image."
When it comes to his shoots, Thomas usually goes into them with a few ideas in mind – especially if he's looking for that cinematic effect. However, he sometimes likes to just go out, take some photos, and see what he comes across.
"I may have a few themes in mind before I go or ideas for projects," he says. "However, most of my images that have worked well were taken quickly before I could give much thought to the scene. It's as if they have come from my subconscious."
The suburbs of London and Brighton are such areas where Thomas likes to head out and photograph interesting scenes and objects. "I've never been drawn to the touristy parts," he reveals. "I always find the most interesting places to photograph are often in the places that many others don't go.
"I spent a lot of time out at Heathrow when photographing my flight path photo series. There are some very interesting places to photograph in the suburbs of London, and Brighton Newhaven – an industrial port, just along the coast from where I live, is one of my favourite places to photograph."
As for why people tend to be abstracted silhouettes in his photos, Thomas says this is because he wants to create a sense of disconnect and alienation from the present world. "I like the idea of a distant, elusive figure that is hard to figure out," he concludes. "This leaves more to the imagination of the viewer."