Formed out of a private Facebook group, the Little Box Collective is the newest large collective with 18 members from all around the world. How do they differ from the existing collectives? And what does it mean for a photographer to be part of a collective?
1. Could you introduce the collective?
Little Box is a collective of 18 photographers from 13 countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas. We are a diverse group, representative of different cultural backgrounds and regions. We have a commitment to ensure that gender diversity is maintained within the group.
Our members include Dimitri Mellos (Greece, NYC), Edas Wong (Hong Kong), Elisa Tomaselli (Italy), Ilker Karaman (Turkey), Ivan Margot (Switzerland, Spain), Joanna Mrowka (Poland), Julia Coddington (Australia), Katarzyna Kubiak (Poland), Koushik Sinha Roy (India), Marina Koryakin (Israel, Ukraine), Muhammad Imam Hassan (Bangladesh), Nayeem Siddique (Bangladesh), Rab Thanasorn (Thailand), Rudy Boyer (France), Stavros Stamatiou (Greece), Suzan Pektas (Turkey), Taras Bychko (Ukraine) and Ximena Echague (Argentina, NYC, Brussels).
2. Who initiated Little Box? And how did you decide on which photographers to add? Also, do you plan to add any new members and what will that process look like?
Collectives are usually formed out of existing groups, such as Flickr groups or private Facebook groups. In the case of Little Box, several individuals initiated the group after discussing the lack of diversity amongst existing collectives, and built the collective based on the talent of individual photographers and with an emphasis on cultural, regional and gender diversity.
We are a very new collective and at this stage are not seeking any more members. In terms of future expansion, increasing diversity is important so this will be a key factor in the selection of new members. Selection is a democratic process and therefore based on a majority vote.
3. There are quite a few (street) photography collectives around, what can Little Box add to the landscape?
Little Box is unique in its diversity, and that is the main point of difference. Different cultural and regional backgrounds, along with gender and age all affect how photographers see the world. We want to explore this as a collective and discuss the different ways we see and respond to things. This is a dialogue that needs to happen in the world of street photography and where we hope that Little Box can play an important role.
4. About the element of diversity – one continent that seems to be missing in the overall genre is Africa. Why do you think street photography activities and photographers from African countries remain unrepresented?
We have actively sought members from the African continent and we are still working on this. We hope to one day have a representative from there. It is not just our collective that lacks African based members – they are under-represented within the broader street community as well.
5. What is the aim of the collective, what are your plans in terms of collaborative work?
Our individual styles vary but we have a common commitment to photographing life as it unfolds, raw and candid. We hope to create and present sophisticated work that will enrich and enlarge our understanding of the genre. Our aim is to challenge the viewer rather than produce simplistic visual clichés and obvious visual puns. Not least we hope to inspire in others the same curiosity and love of life and the joy we feel in seeing and experiencing this world.
We like to see ourselves as a collective ‘without borders’ where we can provide all of our members, regardless of their background, culture, gender, age with a springboard for recognition, supported by a collective voice.
Collectives are always about collaboration. This is essential for the growth of individual members and one of the main reasons collectives form. Little Box has ideas for collaboration and we are working together on a number of projects, including exhibitions and workshops.
6. Probably every collective has a similar issue with members from different continents and busy schedules, resulting in ideas not being picked up or being endlessly postponed. How are you planning to overcome that?
It’s a real challenge.. However, we are using online communication and so far we have managed this fairly well, and kept conversations about various subjects moving along.
Of course there are some who are more active and depending on individual life circumstances that will ebb and flow. Different tasks have been allocated to different members to spread the load. The makeup of the group in terms of personalities also allows for goodwill and lots of humour, and as a result we are making progress.
7. What does or should it mean for a photographer to be part of a collective?
Many people seem to want to be part of a group, a tribe or a pack of like-minded individuals. It is part of the human condition to want to belong.
It is an honour and privilege to be asked to join a collective, and to be recognised as a photographer who is worthy of membership can help validate your work and value.
Collectives can help photographers grow, be mutually supportive (and challenging) environments and, through collective promotion, give individual members greater visibility. Little Box hopes to do all that, as well as to become a group of friends!
8. What advice would you give to people who are without collectives or representations?
Street photography can be a lonely activity, and for many of us it is important to be able to share our work with others or just hang out, either online or in person. Furthermore, working on a common project with photographers that share the same vision is a creative challenge that can be very beneficial. You don’t need to be in a collective to get those advantages, but if it is important to you to be part of one, ask to join an existing group, or create one with other like-minded friends..
That said, there are so many groups on social media that it is possible to gain support, forge friendships and gain visibility through these groups, without the effort of starting or joining a collective.
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