Lucy Fradley – Heads of Strong Old Age

Emerging Female photographer Lucy is currently based in Edinburgh, originally from Peterborough she made the move up North to study at Edinburgh College of Art.

What would you describe the preconceptions and stereotypes of old age to be?

From research and surveys I found that some of the preconceptions of old age were that they are “frail” “restricted” and “past-it” additionally there were views that they are dependant on others, staying at home most the day, leaving them “lonely” and “powerless”.

Tell us abit about these interviews? Anything that stood out to you in particular?

Everyone that I interviewed had stories about their childhood as well as many things that are currently keeping them busy. Such as organising charity events, working as a still life model, being involved in creative groups, travelling, along with many more interests and hobbies. It was lovely to get to know these people and listen to what they had to share, it was a real privilege. One of the things that stood out to me was that even though Liz has Alzheimer’s, she still spoke highly of the things that clearly meant a lot to her, for example her love for Ray was something that showed throughout the interview. Then when I went to photograph them in their house (that Ray had designed), Liz played the piano almost perfectly for me, it was as if the disease had stolen some parts of her memory but other parts of her personality and character were so strongly embedded that they remain strong and true.

Personally I feel that we can learn a lot from the older generation, whats one thing that you value that you have learnt from the interviews or the older generation in your life?

In my interviews I made sure to ask if there was any advice that they would like to share. I was advised to “listen to years” that we have so much to learn from the older generations, which was something I appreciated even more because of this project. “Grab the moment and make the most of it, do what you want to do, don’t think there’s nothing you cant do.”

What did you want to get across in these photographs?

I intended on capturing a sense of who they really were, and by using the interviews I could pick out certain aspects of what they told me about themselves and use them within my photographs. It was a way of me trying to give the viewer a fresh perspective of the older generation.

What have peoples responses been to this project?

The people that I photographed and interviewed were interested in what I was trying to say through this project and were very supportive. I left a comment book by my work in the exhibition and some of the responses given were that the “concept and photographs were beautiful” and that I “captured the beauty, character and value of the subjects” I had been told I had created moving and touching work. So I am extremely pleased with the responses to my project.

Amongst your works from this project which is your favourite and why?

The photograph of my Grandpa peeling the orange with his teeth is one of my favourites! He told me about how when he was younger he ate so many oranges that people called him the orange king and I feel I captured the humour of that as well as showing how he usually peels his oranges as well as including this comment within the sound recording. The project being a way of learning about someone I care about and thought I had heard all of his stories.



What usually inspires you?

I try to visit galleries as often as I can. I am also very lucky to be surrounded by so many creative people, everyone on my degree course is so talented and their energy often inspires me. My mum is also a creative and I always find myself inspired by her.

Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby photographer?

There are lots of similarities between the two, but I think it comes down to the time commitment to photography, if you spend all your time working on your art it is inevitable that you develop a greater understanding and skill.

Who influenced you the most? Is there any other photographer that you considers as a kind of idol?

It’s so hard to pick just one artist, but the name that comes to mind is Irving Penn, his portraiture helped guide my project “The heads of strong old age are beautiful/ beyond the grace of youth”, and his still life work influenced me in one of my more recent pieces of work in as my “Mortality” project. He has always inspired me, when I did my A-levels, I entered a competition with a set of images inspired by him, I won an award and my work was exhibited in The Strand Gallery London.

In your free time, what kind of pictures do you like to shoot and which ones do you avoid?

I wouldn’t say that I avoid anything, I don’t want to stop myself from learning, infect if I feel myself avoiding I actively pursue that type of photograph. I want to improve and challenge myself in all directions. Recently I have been photographing events in order to develop and improve in those situations.

Would you class photography more liberating/restrictive than other art forms?

I don’t believe any art is restrictive, and I don’t find photography more or less so, I find that they can often intertwine anyway. Where suitable I try to involve other creative aspects to my work. My “Mortality” project included paint and clay with sculptural elements, so in my opinion it is best not to view any art as limiting because you can do with it whatever you can imagine or think of. I have always enjoyed creating other work which isn’t photography based, so I look for any chance to combine.

What will be the future of photography in next 20 years? We have seen an extreme shift in the photographic tech and styles in the last couple of decades. Where will it be in future in your opinion?

I’ve read that there are ideas about alterations being made to the lenses of cameras that will allow completely different ways of interpreting light, which if it can be done will be something really interesting to explore. I’m not sure how the internets involvement will alter photography further, but it has already opened up the opportunity to become involved in photography to so many people. I also believe that there will be elements of 3D photography that will be progressing because so many things seem to be going this way, i.e. 3D printing and the cinema, so there must be a way that they can involve photography in this development.

Where do you see your career going?

I’m still developing and exploring what I can do myself. I don’t feel like I can tell you right now where my career will go. I am currently taking it as it comes and I still have a couple of years at university to figure out where I’m going, and its amazing how much can change in a few months, so I’m excited to see where I end up.

Any upcoming projects that you would like to talk about?

As part of the CollectiveF8 we are planning an exhibition for when we return back to university in September. Due to deadlines that have just passed I haven’t yet started this new project but I have a couple of weeks set aside when I plan to fully embrace all of the wonderful art that Edinburgh has to offer in order to inspire myself.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t mentioned?

I am currently planning on arranging an exhibition in my home town, Whittlesey, Peterborough, for my latest work “Imprint”. I want to share my work with people from my own town that wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see it in my end of year exhibition in Edinburgh.

Email –

Instagram – @lucyfradleyphotography

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