An Interview with Irish Photographer, Brian Teeling

Date: 21 June, 2019

Brian Teeling is an Irish photographer who captures images centred around social boundaries. He is also the Uncover is a portrait series of the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland.


What is Uncover and how did this idea come about?

Uncover is an exhibition that seeks to raise awareness and essential funds for Gay Switchboard Ireland. Last year I became good friends with the Director of GSI, Adam Shanley. Adam had seen some of my work previous which explored themes around intimacy and sex and wanted to talk about it. From there, we decided to work together on producing something for GSI which ended up becoming Uncover.

How did you choose your subjects for the piece? Who were some of your favourite people to shoot?

We knew a few people to work with already, through friends or professionally. After that, it was about connecting in with people outside of our own networks. The prerequisite for choosing people to be in this series was that they were quite visible as members of the LGBTQ+ community and that they had a voice. Not just a voice for a subset of the community, but their own identity, their own experiences. The humanity of these people is what interested me.

It’s hard to pick a few but I really enjoyed shooting with Fintan Warfield as I got to go to Leinster House and see the inner-workings of our government here.

What messages, if any, do you hope the Uncover audience takes away from it?

I wanted to demonstrate that despite greater equality and visibility since 2015 (Marriage Referendum), certain legacy issues persist. May of the needs of the community are lost in plain sight. As a community, we can’t overlook issues like homophobia, self-acceptance, substance abuse or the vast health service inequalities.

How do you find LGBT+ community is represented in Irish arts generally? Is this a subject that you think needs more attention?

Under-represented. We have many great queer people in the arts, but as individuals no one really comes to mind. No one making work publicly in and around their sexuality or their own experiences.

I may be entirely wrong on this and hope to be corrected!

Do you think Irish photography has changed in the past few years or decades and where do you see it going/how do you see it developing in the future?

It’s definitely changed and I think we have some really exciting photographers and projects around at the moment. The hope is, you don’t lose these people to London, but what other option is there when you can have a better career across the water.

I think with the support of more independent publications here (like Junior, Thread, District) and places like The Library Project (an extension of Photo Ireland) Irish photography can only get better.

What future projects are currently you working towards?

There’s a couple of ideas in the pipeline and hopefully more portraits. I’d like to continue with my fine-art work and maybe show a retrospective of my work so far. I also enjoy working with and supporting charities so there might be more interesting projects there.