JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
ELOISE LEE: When I was really little I was pretty obsessed with David Attenborough and dinosaurs and wanted to be a paleontologist. I also had a small obsession with Delia Smith and wanted to ‘be her’. God knows why but I am pretty good at baking now. When I got older I became completely clueless about what I wanted to do because I liked too many things. I went through phases of wanting to be a forensic scientist, architect, graphic designer and sports physiotherapist, but eventually settled on a photographer.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
EL: My giant Mo Farah by Kate Peters print I’ve just hung at the top of my stairs, my recent trip to Ethiopia with my athletics club and a film I saw at the Banff Mountain Film Festival called North of the Sun by Inge Wegge and Jorn Ranum who are two Norwegian boys who built a hut out of drift wood on a remote arctic beach and surfed there for the whole nine months of arctic winter.
Photographically Andy Sewell's Something Like A Nest and Bryan Schutmaat's Grays the Mountain Sends, though haven’t managed to get my hands on that beautiful book yet. I also recently discovered Jon Tonk's Empire project, which focuses on the remote British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic Ocean. I’m also really in love with Eirik Johnson's Sawdust Mountain, and Joel Sternfeld's Sweet Earth and the work of Jem Southam have always had a huge influence on me, and I never get tired of their work.
JC; What are you up to right now?
EL: I’m working as a medical photographer full time and trying to fit in my personal work around that, along with marathon training and running a small craft business, so my personal projects are pretty slow-moving. I’m currently in the editing stages of a mini project I did on bouldering in Fontainebleau in France. This is an ongoing project that I’m hoping to add to over time. I’m in the very early stages of a big self-exploration/self portrait project surrounding my relationship with running. My life basically revolves around running so this is something I’ve been thinking of exploring for a while. I‘ve also got lots of little book projects on the go at the moment.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
EL: Not since my university days, and I do miss that, it’s good to have someone to encourage you and help you see what you’re doing right and wrong.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
EL: I’m based in Birmingham in the UK. I moved here 4 years ago for my job and at first I hated everything except for the job, it took me some time to adapt to living in a city, but now I really love it. Living in a city has made me more confident and independent, but I really miss the sea and the countryside. I do find it hard to find inspiration photographically here though as my favourite thing to shoot is landscape documentary. I try to escape to the mountains at the weekends as often as I can.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
EL: I found it very hard to keep myself inspired after I left university, going from an environment that was totally immersed in photography and creativity to one where there is none at all. It’s only very recently, 4 years on, that my inspiration has been rekindled. I think a simple thing such as keeping on reading photographic journals can really help keep you inspired and up to date with what’s happening.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
EL: I don’t really have one but if the medical photography profession ceased to exist then I guess I’d be forced to go freelance, which is a scary thought, I like having a regular wage!
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
EL: I think it definitely helps to keep you motivated and inspired. I’ve found it hard finding other creative people in such a large and spread out city. I really miss that element of university, where we had regular critiques of work and where there would always be someone in the darkroom or the finishing room to give advice and bounce ideas off.