The Skinny Shop: Ross Fraser McLean video interview
Dundee photographer Ross Fraser McLean, one of the emergent artists featured in The Skinny Shop's first Culture Label collection, discusses his work and influences
Ross Fraser McLean is a photographer who lives, works and teaches in Dundee. He shoots in film on a camera older than he is, and has travelled somewhat extensively having taken on projects in Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, Cuba, Lebanon and across Europe.
"When I was 21 I saved up ten grand and spent nine of it travelling from St Petersburg to Tokyo on the trains with an Olympus OM2M film camera that’s older than me. I shot about 50, 60 films and then from that I used the portfolio I created there to lead me onto other work. Amongst other places in the world I ended up eventually getting to go to Cuba in 2009 which was a dream come true! At this point I was carrying four cameras but I still had my Olympus OM2N. That’s the camera I used to shoot the Culture Label series.
"The series is a selection of some of the stronger images from Cuba. The interesting thing to me about these images is that a lot of them would have been gone if I’d waited more than a second before catching the photograph – they’re all reactions without too much thought being put in. I guess though after that there was quite a bit of time trying to perfect the colours and the level and the tones, from something that was taken in quite a spontaneous, almost throwaway manner, they’ve lived on beyond that.
"It was the 50th anniversary of the end of the revolution in Cuba, which is quite an iconically photographed country in itself. The slightly ironic thing about the images is that they pay homage to the 1970s American photographers, colourists from that era who will never be able to go legally to Cuba. I suppose to me they mark an era in Cuba’s history that I hope will live on.
"Caro, the image of the red car, is quite an iconic image that you might associate with Cuba itself. There’s a vast number of images of cars within the series which kind of pays homage to my dad, a way of getting closer to him I suppose. A lot of them are quite casual in their composition – if you look at Torro, on the beach.. If there had been more than a moment waited it would have been gone.
"Puesta del Sol, that sunset image, is a strong one for me. Even though it was a night shot set up with a tripod and so on it’s deliberately slightly squint, a way of saying ‘Screw you Photoshop!’ It’s good to leave the flaws in."
Buy Limited edition prints of Ross Fraser McLean's work at www.culturelabel.com/artist/ross-fraser-mclean.