Having recently graduated in graphic design and photography from Kingston University, Brighton-based Anna Brooks has just received some more good news in the form of a forthcoming placement at Purpose design studio in London. It’s easy to see why Brooks is getting the attention. To date she’s worked across a wide range of disciplines, often collaboratively, and has built up an impressive portfolio that includes well-honed graphic design, illustration, photography and even film.
The project that first caught CR’s attention was the photographic series, Class Portrait, that Brooks conceived with her fellow Kingston student, Samantha Harvey. Unlike the traditional set up of the school photograph, in Brooks and Harvey’s versions the children in each class have their backs to the camera. It makes for a strange, not to say sinister, construction.
Brooks explains that the Class Portrait series is meant as a comment on the multitude of laws surrounding the photographing of children and stems from a previous project in which the pair had hoped to take pictures of some pupils using an educational stamp they had designed. They were granted permission, but only if the children were photographed from the back, anonymously.
“We found that quite interesting and I thought it would be funny if we shot a whole group portrait like that,” says Brooks. “We looked into it and discovered that some of the laws and procedures currently in place are quite farcical. This becomes more of a factor at events like school sports days when it’s much harder to gauge what you can and can’t photograph.” So that the children weren’t too confused by the unorthodox shoot, Brooks and Harvey first took conventional group photographs of them and then asked them all to spin around (deleting the initial shots they’d taken later on).
Photography is undoubtedly a passion for Brooks, but it’s perhaps just another means through which she can visualise a particular idea or theme. “Philip-Lorca diCorcia was one of the first artists I became interested in,” she says, “as he was one of a few photographers whose use of light was really appealing.” While citing Sam Taylor-Wood, Bill Viola and Ryan McGinley as influential, too, Brooks also maintains that incorporating 3D elements into her work has been integral to many a project (whilst studying on her foundation course, she enjoyed the module in sculpture the most). In the future, she adds, she would prefer to continue working within a wide range of visual communication fields.
Indeed, her own prediction for what lies ahead includes, ideally, her own freelance studio, “so that I can carry on how I work at the moment. I don’t want to limit myself to photography or design,” she says. “I want to try everything. In that sense it might be hard to place myself within the professional world, as I’m not conventional.”
For those studios and clients who like to shy away from the conventional, however, Brooks is definitely someone they’d be well advised to keep an