by Steve Bisson

© Still image of the book 'Go Away' by Dan Burn-Forti

Dan Burn-Forti started to take pictures when he was 15 or 16, not through any real interest in photography but as an aid to applying for film school. «I thought I wanted to work in film and was told that a portfolio of photographs would be a useful tool when interviewing for courses and so I set out, with my mum’s Fujica SLR, and started photographing this that and the other. As soon as I got my first contact sheet back I forgot about the film nonsense and was hooked on the wonder of the captured moment.» Very soon after, through friends and family, he started assisting a few commercial photographers which showed Dan how photography was not just brilliant fun but could also pay the bills. After finishing school he carried on with the assisting whilst studying for a rather pointless and time wasting degree in photography and then, aged 23, he began his career as a photographer. 

In the last few years, beyond commercial assignments, Dan has worked on a number of personal projects that have been mainly focused on the fantasy and reality of escapism. «I took some pictures on a beach in Majorca in 2012» he says «and was struck by the look of disappointment on the faces of the holidaymakers. This got me thinking about what it is that we hope for when we get away from our everyday and about the inevitable disillusionment when we finally get our two weeks of sun and its not quite like the dream.» In addition, the London based photographer has been photographing escapism on an everyday level, focusing particularly on the odd way we seem to infantilize our World, through painting everything in bright playground colours "as if our beautiful World isn’t colourful enough!" So ‘Go Away’ is a look at our preoccupation with escapism, be it in the most literal form of going away from home or the more mundane way we attempt escape through transformation of the normal and everyday into a childlike World of artificiality.

Among his favourite books, Dan quotes: ‘The Europeans’ by Tina Barney, William Eggleston’s ‘Ancient and modern’, Joel Sternfeld’s ‘American Prospects’, and ‘All the days and nights’ by Doug Dubois. Other favourites are ‘An Autobiography’ by Richard Avedon, ‘Like A One Eyed Cat’ by Lee Friedlander and ‘Andre Kertesz: His life and work’. Eventhough he can’t say to be inspired directly by any single publication, the randomness of the work of William Eggleston and Joel Sternfeld, to name two of his favourites, allowed him to feel that it was ok for 'Go Away' to possibly seem slightly haphazard and a little arbitrary in my choice of subject matter.

The book combines images from different series such as 'Benidorm' and ‘From Elvis to the Holy Lands'. Although the different stories he drew on for the content of the book were unrelated in themselves, they were linked thematically. So the difficult part was combining them to make them work as a whole. Initially he simpy sorted them into one big bundle, then looked at how images worked together and slowly filtered out ones that felt wrong or repetitive until he got to a set that seemed right, regardless of where or when they were taken.

For this Dan has also worked closely with editor and curator Lu Bowan from Bowan Creative along with the design team at Studio Thomson. «Working with Lu was excellent as it greatly helped to have a fresh perspective on the pictures. My familiarity with the work meant that I was often trying to shoehorn the wrong pictures into the book based on an inability to see the wood for the trees or just that I really liked them. Lu made sure that if they didn’t fit with the rest they didn’t get in. Studio Thomson were fantastic in the work they did in regards to their design, choice of typography and printers and their insistance on the simplest of covers.»

Since publishing 'Go Away' Dan has been extremely busy in his day job as a commercial photography, but he is hoping to start work on a second book later this year. However he says «it took me forever to get this one done so I’m not setting myself any deadlines for now.»  We look forward then and with great curiosity.


© Still images of the book 'Go Away' by Dan Burn-Forti


Dan Burn-Forti on Urbanautica
Dan Burn Forti (personal website)