Nan Goldin is not only one of the world’s great photographers – she’s also arguably the best creator of the photography book. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Tokyo Love and The Devil’s Playground all create compelling, intimate narratives through a sensitively selected series of shots. So it’s perhaps no surprise that her former Studio Manager and fellow photographer, Thomas Giddings, not only takes great pictures, but has turned them into a brilliant book too.
I Will Make A Way, his first “proper” hardbound book (following a small postcard book he sold at Colette, Dashwood and Donlon Books), was a five year labour of love. “It all started when I was photographing the rehearsal of a fight scene for a performance two of my friends were directing and I found it so fascinating that I began looking in to the world of stunt performers,” Giddings explains.
“A few years later, I travelled over 1,000 miles with a group of local motorcycle guides in India, and then at the beginning of this year read about a marching band in Alabama that had raised over $600,000 via GoFundMe so they would be able to play (controversially) at Trump’s Inauguration. So I went to photograph them too.”
The name of the book comes from seeing the phrase painted across a car in India. “It kind of dawned on me that all these groups of people were motivated towards their aims and goals by struggle, rehearsal and human spirit – despite their different situations and locations.”
Travel is at the heart of I Will Make A Way and there’s the sense that Giddings is extra inspired when in foreign places. “You can spot interesting moments anywhere, but sometimes I think you have to leave the cities and places you are familiar with, to appreciate the unique things that pass you by every day,” he says.
And how was it working with Nan Goldin, the legend? “It was really an incredible experience,” he says. “Working through the archive and hearing tales of New York through the decades. I think I learnt to just stick to what you do and have belief in your own vision. To focus on what you are passionate about and to work out what makes you connect to the subjects or places you are photographing.”