2016-01-22 Till death us do part
Devon-based photographer John Paul Evans won the Hasselblad Masters Awards 2016 ‘Wedding’ category with a unique and compelling still-life image of a gay marriage: his own.
His winning picture is part of a series entitled ‘Till death us do part.’- and light years away from ‘traditional’ wedding photography. John Paul Evans is not a commercial wedding photographer. As an academic his main interest is in how photography is deployed to reinforce concepts of gender, sexuality and ‘otherness’.
Following the change in marriage law proposed in 2013 he began to make portraits with his then civil partner, and now married partner, Peter. He says: “From an academic point of view I was critical of the way that photography is used to reinforce concepts of the family and normality. As a consequence, I have very few images of the 26 years that Peter and I have spent together.
“As I am now entering my 50s and Peter is in his late 70s, there was an urgency to address this in my own mind and create alternatives to traditional wedding photographs. Our performance of various permutations of the couple/marriage/wedding portrait is a way of addressing this for me in creating an alternative family/wedding album, and leaving a trace of our presence in the world.”
He adds: “The pictures on the wall and the empty suits in this context I intended to reference both alienation and loss/absence because I am aware of our age difference and the inevitable fact that we cannot grow old together.” After working with a number of medium format cameras and more primitive technologies, such as a medium format pinhole camera, John Paul decided to buy a millennium edition 503CW because he considered Hasselblad to be the pinnacle of the genre. “I scan all my negatives with an Imacon X1,” he says. “I have, however, recently purchased a CFV-50c digital back to enable me work digitally with my 503CW, but still retain the slow pace of image-making that waist-level finder – medium format photography demands.”
Winning this category took him by surprise, and he’s still getting used to the idea. “I was delighted that Hasselblad chose an alternative representation of marriage photography for the 2016 prize,” he says. “It was wonderful to be selected for the shortlist, but I didn’t expect an image that, if anything, could be read as a critique of the genre of wedding photography could be the overall winner.”
See all the winning entries in Hasselblad Masters 2016 here
The ten winners will be tasked to create a new and unique set of images, using a Hasselblad Medium Format camera, embracing the theme ‘Inspire’ (coinciding with Hasselblad’s 75th anniversary) for the latest edition of the Hasselblad Masters Book. The Winners will receive their trophy and their own Hasselblad camera to keep at a special photokina 2016 ceremony in Cologne this September.