// IN CONVERSATION WITH KAT DIPPER
When did you first start experimenting with photography?
I first started experimenting with photography as a teenager, but became enamoured with it when I was 17 and introduced to analogue photography. Once a week a retired teacher, Christopher Rimmer, came in to teach me about film photography. We’d hang out in the dark room, he introduced me to documentary photographers such as Vivan Maier and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and he lent me my first film camera.
What sort of things do you find yourself looking to document through photography?
My practice is centred around people and place, predominantly focussing on themes of memory and home, and I often employ autobiographical elements throughout my work. I find people fascinating – how individuals live, what people experience and endure together and alone, their stories and their narrative.
In what ways do you find these things intriguing and inspiring to shoot?
I find people’s individual ways of life intriguing and interesting, on their own and recognising them as moments in history, and through documenting these elements I feel I’m introduced to new experiences and always learning.
How do you decide who/what you want to cast/document for your photography?
It depends on what I’m working on. I love portraiture, and for that I’ll ask anyone if I can photograph them – strangers, friends, mutual connections. I do this to practice and expand on skills, but also to meet new people and observe what can be relayed through a portrait. However, my documentary practice is often context heavy. I find my strongest work is the most researched and realised – when I know what my narrative is and what message I aim to convey.
Can you tell me a bit more about your photo series ‘John’
‘John’ is an ongoing series I began in 2018, where I have been documenting my uncle and his life since moving to Sydenham in South East London several years ago. This project began with a lot of research through making, beginning with observing the sense of community between my uncle, his neighbours and their relationships, as well as documenting his living with Multiple Sclerosis, and how this affects his daily life.
I love the way your images look – what methods do you use to shoot them?
I shoot predominantly with Medium Format using colour film. I find analogue photography suits my practice as a personal and methodical way of making images. Using an older camera that takes time to set up and being limited to 10 images per roll of film, I find the time and cost expense makes me more thoughtful and careful with what I choose to photograph. With portraiture, this time also helps me create a rapport and discuss the project with the sitter.
Which of your ‘John’ series do you like the most? Why?
I wouldn’t be able to choose a favourite image, but I’ve loved focusing more on portraiture within this series. Through collaborating with my uncle and his neighbours, I’ve felt lucky to be welcomed into the lives of such diverse, interesting people, to share stories and be allowed to document elements of their lives over the last few years.
Are there any artists/photographers out there that inspire your practice?
I take a lot of inspiration from photographers such as Zed Nelson, Jack Latham, Joel Sternfeld as well as painters like Edward Hopper and Egon Schiele.
Have you got any new upcoming projects you can share with us?
In addition to continuing ‘John’, I’ve began work following my 2017 series ‘Quarters’, where I returned to and documented the military housing that I grew up in throughout my childhood. I’m looking further into individual understandings of place, the definition of home and what this means to transient spaces.
Kat Dipper is a documentary and portrait photographer based in Manchester. Having studied BA (hons) Photography at Manchester Metropolitan University, graduating in 2018, she has since been focussing on independent projects, with features in British Journal of Photography and Portrait of Britain: Volume 2.