How I Got My job - Etienne Bruce
In the fourth instalment of our careers series, we’ve interviewed London based Etienne Bruce about her journey as a documentary photographer.
F&A: Did you study photography, or are you self taught?
EB: A bit of both! Shortly after finishing a bachelor's in international development at the University of Sussex I developed a strong interest in photography. I spent my summers working, using the money I saved in the winter to work on personal projects and strengthening my portfolio. I spent five years practicing and reading as much as I could to gain a deeper knowledge of technique and theory before deciding to do a masters in documentary photography and photojournalism at London College of Communication; I graduated from there in 2017.
F&A: How do your projects come about?
EB: Most of my projects come about when something triggers an idea, often through reading or looking critically at the way certain issues are portrayed in popular culture or in the media. Part of my practice is very personal, while the other part stems from a keen interest and curiosity about the world around me – I think what I find most fascinating about any kind of artistic practice is the way that it encourages you to engage with the local, which exists within a wider web of social relations; you begin to understand that when you look closely enough, there is something to learn about the world around you, and also yourself, wherever you look.
F&A: You have a full time career along side your photographic practice, how do you juggle the two?
EB: I've worked in the events industry as a project manager for the past 8 years. This has both been a blessing and a curse. Working has allowed me to invest in making my own work, and because of this I have been granted the freedom to create work on my own terms. On the other hand, the time that my job takes up can be a hindrance on progressing my artistic practice or steering my career in a new direction. I would love to transition into working in a photography-related field, but equally I am grateful for having found a way to live that means I can support myself financially, while also dedicating a good portion of my time to making personal projects.
F&A: Have there been any career highlights?
EB: I think my career highlight so far was showing my work Xenitia (a story of migration in Greece across space and time) at the Beyond Borders Exhibition at LCC. The work was exhibited alongside contributions from those involved in the Refugee Journalism Project- a collaboration between LCC and the Migrants Resource Centre. The exhibition was accompanied by a panel discussion featuring the editor of the New Humanist Magazine; the chief executive of the Refugee Council; the director of campaigns and communications from the Ethical Journalism Network; Abdulwahab Tahhan, a researcher from Airwars; and Shahd Abusalama, feminist writer and artist. It was an honour to show this work at an event that brought together such a breadth of voices from different walks of life.
F&A: Do you have any projects in the pipeline you can share with us?
EB: For my most recent project I am working with Brythoniaid Choir, an all male choir from North Wales. My mum comes from that area and I've spent a large portion of my life there. The landscape is imbued with my childhood memory, and yet my familiarity with the local culture and traditions was next to nothing. When you engage more deeply with the choir, you understand that their existence is connected to history, memory, tradition, masculinity, intimacy, friendship, and more. I'm learning about this place I know so well in a completely new way.
F&A: How important is it to find time for creativity?
EB: I think it's crucial to find time for creativity. Engaging with the world creatively encourages you to think critically and to reinterpret things as you understand them. It's a way of challenging your own perceptions.
website - www.etienneaudreybruce.com
instagram - https://www.instagram.com/etienne_bruce/