Award-winning photographer Carl Beebee has been exhibiting his work worldwide for more than 10 years and in that time has released three books, the latest of which was 'California Calling'.
The Leominster photographer has held more than 15 exhibitions in New York, the first taking place 11 years ago. He also lectures and leads workshops as a qualified arts award advisor.
He's the co-founder and art editor of Bro&Brew, the magazine dedicated to art, culture, alt-fashion and music. And he's currently writing a book entitled ‘Photography, Philosophy and Creative Context'.
We spoke to him about his latest project which is taking place in Leominster, New York, California, and Wolverhampton.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a few bits. One of which is in a few months time I’m hoping to have another exhibition in New York City. It’s a project called ‘You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried'. It’s going to feature a lot of my friends in the shots. I’m roping them into a shot. I think we are going to shoot at about 5am in Leominster in Corn Square. I’ve got about 10 or 12 friends in it and they are all going to be doing specific bits. It’s all very deliberate and the light’s going to be very deliberate. It’s quite a big shoot really in empty streets. It’s not all worked out yet so it's just sort of things that I relate to them. So one of them will be busking, playing the guitar. Little bits like that. Hopefully there will be 10 shots at the end of it. So that will be 10 new pieces that will be exhibited. I’m not going to show them online or anything.
How did you get started exhibiting in New York?
I exhibited in a small café in Wolverhampton [where Carl went to uni]. My work was spotted by a man called Stewart who at the time was an art agent. He offered to take my work abroad. I was quite young at the time and naïve and thankfully it all worked out. He put some shows on for me in Canada to start with and it went from there really. I was offered a small group shoot in New York. Once you get your foot in the door it’s a little easier to push it open each time.
How did you get started in photography?
I went to Ludlow College as a mature student. I think I was 19 or 20 when I started I actually went there with the idea that I would really like to go to university and do film making. So it made sense that I looked into A Levels like English and Media, and of course Photography made sense because of the camera work. I always intended to go on and do film but I think I just fell in love with photography. That was it for me. I went to uni and did it and here I am far too many years later still doing it.
Is photography something you found you could do naturally?
No. I can do now but I think when you first start photography there is such a big weight put on your shoulders about gear and technology. Even then it was a real fast changing industry because digital photography was coming in, it was just being introduced, so while you were being taught 35mm and medium format photography, which I still believe is the best way to be taught, there was a shadow hanging over you that actually everything you are learning now is changing anyway so get ready to move on.
You used to do a lot of band photography. Is it something you would still consider doing?
It’s a really good way of getting your name out there and even 10 years ago there were a lot more music publications than there are now. You’ve kind of got the web now but it’s so saturated by music photography on there. So it was a really good way. You could work for a few months and be featured in NME, Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Rocksound. You could do some good bands. It was a good way to earn your audience a little bit. There are still bands if they asked me to work for them I would. In fact, it does happen I shot Frank Turner live a few months. It’s just got to be something that appeals to me.
How did the book 'California Calling' come about?
For 10 years I’ve been signed to different American agencies so I’ve always had the option of going over there and doing some work. A trip to California was put forward to me to just to go and do some shots, it wasn’t really for the book.
I think under normal circumstances I would have said no because the whole travel thing doesn’t really appeal to me. A couple of months before I had lost my dad so it seemed like a good idea to go away and I mentioned it to Tom (one of Carl's mates who accompanied him on the trip). He was very much 'I’m coming on this'.
It snowballed from there and kind of became this project so the idea was floated about that this should become some sort of tour book, journal, travel guide. I don’t know what it is really but it fits in somewhere there.
They (the mates) helped out on the shoots. One of them was trained to be my assistant, one would do video work because we videoed everything there to use for commercial purposes. Everyone did bits and pieces.
I’m all for a navigator. I could get lost walking to the shop so Josh took the role of grown up and tour manager for us.
The landscape is crazily diverse you get these awesome city scapes which are beautiful and memorising and you travel down the road a bit and it’s desert with palm trees and nothing else really. It’s quite incredible the diversity of it.
Head over here for more information about Carl's career.