Dreaming A Reality

By Angelina Mo

24 April 2024

The lens of a camera functions similarly to our human eye, capturing light and reflecting it to create the picture of reality. Miles Aldridge’s photographs seem surreal, yet they still unbosom the truth. Using psychedelic visuals and cinematic compositions, Aldridge’s influence of the 60s has its roots in his childhood as his artist father served as his first role model. The topic of domestic life also stays present within the substance of his photographs that dissect the turmoil of his parent’s marriage that led to a divorce. In the center of the photographs stands the woman, navigating herself through the world that oppresses her. Each picture is filled with colour and sharp details but with a closer look they actually provide a canvas for questioning and understanding.



SLEEK: In your career, you started in film making before moving to photography. What made you gravitate more towards photography?


Miles Aldridge: My work is often described as cinematic and having a film narrative which is true because I love cinema. Cinema taught me that the world of imagination is as relevant as the real world. Throughout history, photography was used to capture the real world on a camera whereas with cinema, it creates a dream world. So the tricks and ambitions of cinema of cinema influenced me more even if it uses the same device as in photography. I found it more truthful to be telling stories which are fantasy.



S: While both are used for storytelling, what difference do they hold for you?


MA: The huge difference between both mediums is that cinema has a narrative curve while with one of my photographs, you are in the middle of a moment in which you understand that something has happened or will happen. It creates a sense of mystery. My work aims for a Renaissance painting effect of not knowing the whole story. The viewer becomes a complicit asking questions but with a film you have a fixed script and not much room for imagination.



S: Photography is used as a tool to capture a moment. Your process of working involves more steps though, beginning with sketching before even holding the camera. Do you still consider your photographs to be moments?


MA: I think traditional photography is about one decisive moment and life is a series of moments that we capture with a camera. Though I don’t follow these principles because I want my photographs to transmit the feeling of being eternal. I am very much against the defining principle of a photograph capturing a moment, I try to elongate the moment in my work which is in a way anti photography.



S: Your photographs do evoke a sense of surrealism.


MA: I find it interesting that when we are in a dream, we don’t have the same clock in our head. One of my great heroes Magritte talked about his ambitions of making his paintings as precise as a dream and I love this idea which I try to reference in my work.

We experience the dream world with such clarity which makes it kind of strange though after living in this grey world it creates this incredible moment. I think that is why I am interested in the strong colours and sharp graphic details in my photography.



S: Though your photographs do seem surreal, they depict real memories of your own upbringing.


MA: When we are in a dream we often try to undo something we have experienced and a story unfolds in a complicated surprising way. I had a mother who died quite young and then I was left with this mystery of who this woman was. She passed away when I was in my 20s and through my work I try to put the pieces of her life together. Great art is often somebody revisiting their childhood. For me, the result is on one hand nostalgic with elements from the 60s but it is also futuristic because photographs could not be printed in this scale with this clarity. Being simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic also helps with destroying this idea of creating a single moment in one photograph.



S: Your work touches upon topics that are dark though you use vibrant colours. Why do you choose this harsh contrast?


MA: In my own story we have my father who is this artist and has worked with the Beatles and The Rolling Stones so he brought a lot of this energy from Rock’n’Roll. Memories of domesticity come from my mother. My workis sort of a mashup of these two people. The idea of a wonderful family never existed for me and then it all exploded by their divorce. My images are often women within this situation asking themselves how they got into this nightmare. But then I do it in such beautiful colours to get people to approach the photographs like a butter­fly coming to a flower. When they are in front of the pictures they start asking questions. A lot of people are saying that my work reminds them of themselves. With this domestic nightmare I am creating, it is important to show that women are not crushed by their environment, they more so turn into stone because both the family world and that of consumerism and of our society is so oppressive. They rather keep their emotions hidden like my mother going through all of this drama with my father and the family falling apart, still she never said a thing.



S: At the center of your work are mostly women. How do you recreate those multifaceted layers of being a woman in a photograph?


MA: I begin at my studio and do a lot of drawings. In the story I don’t want a woman who is just happy, there has to be a conflict. Then I work with set designers and prop designers to build the picture. When I see the scenario for the first time, I work more like a reportage photographer to find the best position in a scene. In the process of doing so, often times new interesting angles are revealed.



S: Your body of work that has been created over a span of 20 years is now being exhibited at Fotografiska. Has anything changed from how you approach your work?


MA: I am incredibly flattered that people want to see my work I have created in twenty years because it feels very complete to me. The period I was working in began with photography that was not digital and I lived through the times of photoshop but I still shoot on film. I think the colour is the best and people look better because there is something too hd about someone’s face in digital that makes it less interesting. I am very proud of my work coming together creating a complete world where everything connects. If you look at the oldest photograph and at the newest, they could have been taken in the same week. Of course there have been adjustments but there has always been this one vision.

Dreaming A Reality


To learn more about this artwork, please provide your contact information.

Subscribe to the Miles Aldridge newsletter

By sharing your details you agree to our Privacy Policy

Thank you for your enquiry, we will be in touch shortly.



For information on upcoming exhibitions, events and books, subscribe to the Miles Aldridge newsletter below.

By sharing your details you agree to our Privacy Policy

Thank you for subscribing!