hymns from the bedroom

A  work  of  photography  by  Poem  Baker

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“I’m  a  self-­‐taught  documentary  photographer  who  shoots  on  instinct.  since  picking  up  a  camera  about  five  years  ago,  I’ve  been  enthralled  by  the  transformative  nature  of  portraiture  in  its  power  to  both  mask  and  lay  bare  the  human  persona.  Hymns  from  the  bedroom  is  a  personal  journal  of  friends  and  people  I’ve  encountered  while  wandering  around  London  for  inspiration.  Most  of  whom  are  creative  twenty-­‐something’s  on  the  threshold  of  their  dreams  and  ambitions,  ranging  from  performance  artists,  musicians,  actors  and  fashion  designers  to  strippers,  transvestites  and  those  who  live  on  the  fringes  of  society.  Each  of  my  documentations  implicitly  tells  a  story  about  its  subject  and  his  or  her  creative  endeavors  in  life,  whether  actual  or  aspirational.  These  candid,  intimate  and  sometimes  subversive  portraits  also  explore  related  themes  of  gender,  sexuality,  relationships  and  family,  particularly  in  a  sub-­cultural  context.  one  of  the  main  catalysts  for  developing  this  series  of  portraits,  and  the  living  thread  that  runs  throughout  this  work,  are  the  relationships  I  develop  with  my  subjects.  I photograph  these  people  again  and  again,  noticing  and  capturing  subtle  nuances  in  their  characters,  which  naturally  seep  through  into  the  pictures  and  deepen  my  ongoing  perspective.  Over  time,  some  of  my  subjects  begin  to  feel  differently  about  how  we  approach  making  a  picture  together,  and  it  can  influence  the  outcomes  unexpectedly.  This  intuitive,  exploratory  way  of  working  aids  the  process  of  capturing  authentic,  uninhibited  and  often  spontaneous  moments  in  time.  The  outcome  of  which,  as  a  whole,  is  a  visual  stream  of  consciousness  documenting  individuals  on  their  creative  journey;  giving  them  a  voice  through  imagery  as  they  seek  to  express  and  define  themselves  while  inevitably  challenging  the  constraints  of  conformity. “


How did you develop an interest in photography?

I worked in theatre for a number of years , but became exhausted by the work being sporadic and feeling creative and not being able to act upon it , because of a lack of funding!

So thats when I started looking for other ways of being pro actively inventive

In 2010 is when I first picked up a camera and started playing Around making images …

It felt amazing , I could pick it up any time of the day or night , and be creative .

The first project I ever did was a street photography series of photos on Brick Lane , it taught me how to frame , to not be afraid to approach people and to keep committed to something … I spent every single Sunday for a year walking up and down brick lane for about 7 hours a time learning how to use my camera!


Why did you shoot your subjects in their bedroom?

I always shoot people in their own surroundings and  in their homes as it is a comfortable and familiar location for the subject and this is what is central to  hymns from the bedroom.   If you take a closer look at some of the portraits you can see a bigger picture, the everyday items, articles of clothing scattered about on the floor, pictures pinned on the wall,  it’s a further insight into the realm of my subjects and there is no other way but to photograph them from within that world.


What artists inspire you?

My inspirations come from all types of artists , I love Tracy Emin , Andy Warhol ,and Lucian Freud .

As for photographers , I have soft spot for unsung heroes , people like Francesca Woodsman , James Ravilious , Corinne Day , and Vivian Maier.

I collect photography books too , I love Robbert Mapplethorpes the black book , Larry Clarke’s tulsa ,  Bruce Gilden’s coney island , and Nan Goldin’s the devils playground


What do you set out to achieve , if anything with your work?

Well I think I have a good eye for finding individuals that have something extraordinary about them , something that can capture your attention immediately.

For example for hymns from the bedroom , for that particular project I was drawn to people that don’t conform to societies expectations of gender .

I was hoping through my camera I could bring that world closer to others who are unfamiliar with it , to show how captivating it can be and to give my subjects a voice to challenge the constrains of conformity .

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What projects are you working on right now?

Actually , I’m now in the midst of working on a number of   colour projects , that’s important to me at the moment , I think  it’s good practice   to challenge yourself & try and avoid repeating yourself , I still need to work on my colour pallet – so I’m photographing club kids ,  there another project on goths , and  I’ve just completed another series of portraits on a performance art dance company called House of Health that perform on the underground club scene.


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