Q&A: Peter Holliday


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Let things happen, keep things simple, but learn to balance the work into what you’re doing too. As a photographer, I have a basic idea of what I want to achieve but I find that most of my favourite ideas develop slowly, though there does come a point when you have to start chasing the thoughts down. At the end of the day, it’s important to remind oneself that the best ideas don’t always come for free. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? As a European, I have a regrettable feeling that future generations will mock us for our inability to learn from the mistakes and pressures of the 20th century. Are you aware of any conspiracies? I don’t really prescribe to any conspiracy theories but I guess they can make fun thought experiments. I always try to remember what Carl Sagan once said, “keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out”. I ultimately think conspiracy theories illustrate the collective suspicion and anxiety of a society more than anything, and that’s both important and interesting to analyse in itself.

What is it that interests you about photography? Its ability and ease at accurately representing the landscapes of our existence. I’m really interested in how the photographic process combines both sight and thought, and how it encourages one to analyse and engage with the circumambient world we witness around us everyday. What is the worst thing about city life? Its hastiness. What part of the planet would you like to explore? The polar regions. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Mahatma Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Physics. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. No single image immediately springs to mind, but I think the legacy left by the 19th century photographic pioneers such as Timothy O’Sullivan, Carlton Watkins, and George W. Rice is a very important one. The way that they responded to the changing landscapes of their time with their cameras has remained extremely relevant to this day. How often do you take other people’s advice? Probably not as much as I should. Which living person do you most admire? My grandmother. What is the best way to educate yourself? Learn through others, but also learn by doing through trial and error. The latter is the purest way to figure out what works for you.

What is the next book you want to read? I am looking forward to reading The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. Most used camera? Most of my recent work has been photographed using a Mamiya 7II medium format rangefinder. I use the camera on my iPhone a lot, too. What object do you want? I hope to get my hands on a large format field camera sometime soon. What object do you need? A car. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? A virtual public space where lies become truth, but also where immense knowledge can be found if you just take the time to look for it. The internet is also a space where we feel obliged to stuff finite storage space with countless images of what we’ve eaten for breakfast, or the latte we’ve just drunk. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. The moon landings, or Ernest Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ expedition to the Antarctic between 1914-16. Which talent would you most like to have? I often wish I could call myself a musician. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? I plan to look over some work, organise a few upcoming and ongoing projects, and then I’ll probably go for an evening wander through the woods.

Peter Holliday (b. Stirling, 1992) is a Scottish photographer and writer based in Glasgow. He graduated with BA (Hons) in Communication Design from the Glasgow School of Art in June 2015. In August 2015 he was one of 20 art graduates selected across the UK by Creative Review for their Talent-Spotting feature in association with JCDecaux and Creative Translation. His project Where the Land Rises was chosen for Scotland’s 2015 graduate showcase Futureproof, and in October 2015 he was selected as the winner of the second edition of the Blow Up photography annual. Peter’s work has appeared internationally both online and in-print in major publications such as Wired, The Weather Channel, GUP, Creative Review, Der Greif, and Libération. Peter was invited to exhibit his series Where the Land Rises as a solo show at the Reykjavík Museum of Photography between December 2015 and January 2016. In March 2016 his work was shown at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.

Peter’s work considers the symbiotic relationship humans share with the environments we find ourselves in. Reflecting on ideas of time, memory, and home, Peter is interested in investigating the cultural significance of the topographies that underpin humanity’s existence. For more of Peter’s work visit his website – peterhollidayphoto.com