The Archive: Contrast

The Archive: Contrast

So this was my first set of portraits. Well not if you count photographing a boyfriend’s “band” as portraiture… Anyway, moving on to these actual portraits.

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This was also my first real attempted at studio lighting.

Now, if you’re familiar with my work, you’ll know that I hate (by hate I mean truly detest) using studio lighting, and I’ve never really explained why. As I type this I am aware of how ridiculous a reason this is.The reason for this animosity is not due to a fear or laziness to learn it, on the contrary, as a painter I love a good bit of lighting, it’s due to the fact that whilst making these portraits, my acute clumsiness did not mix with the equipment.

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Whilst setting up the lights, and being so socially awkward about photographing this boy that I’d only known for a few weeks, I managed to set off the flash right into my eye, causing temporary blindness and a terrible headache. I also managed to burn myself on the lamp by side stepping into it. It was truly a “die of embarrassment” moment.  Now, for any onlooker I understand how daft this all is and not really a reason to not use lighting. The thing is, for some time after, every time I contemplated using lighting, my mind rushed back to that moment and a wave of embarrassment and anxiety would flood all my confidence. So I honed in my ability to use natural light and made sure that all my projects could be created without the use of artificial light. I soon felt there was no need for it. And still, to an extent, feel that way. Not going to lie, there’s been time that I’ve thought “fuck me, I wish we had some lights!”

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One again, take note of my cutting edge printing techniques and concepts. And also the generally sickening emo tone, damn, I was hipster back then, before it was even a thing.

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I also used colour, and expanded my model base, because I was obviously a pro. My models where Andrew and Josh (I think that was his name?!?), and I think they felt just as ridiculous as I did doing these photos! But if by chance either of you are reading this; from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Without that awkward hour or so I would have never found out my love for photographing people. These first few portraits, though basic in so many ways, have shaped my images and you can see the influence they have had on my work throughout the years. I still very much like them.

The title Contrast, and all the Archive post titles, are taken from my work books and relate to the set coursework projects.

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The Archive: The Graveyard

The Archive: The Graveyard

Any photographer worth their salt should have at least one set of images from the local graveyard. Like getting excessively drunk on your 18th birthday, it’s a right of passage.

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This was our first field trip as a class (50meters down the road) and I remember being really anxious about the whole event. I remember thinking “be amazing”, which is ridiculous, but I was 16, and determined to be the next David Bailey. I also felt like a twat; slightly uncomfortable, wandering round a graveyard taking photos and bumping into the occasional mourner.

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But I’ll never forget the joy and pride of successfully processing my own film.

You’re standing in pitch black, cracking open a canister with your teeth because someone has misplaced the film grabber thing, all the while aware that you have to not touch the film, just the sides and cut it in the right place and get it onto this spool that becomes impossible to navigate when the lights go out, thinking “shit did I mix enough developer? is it the right temperature?! FUCK IT’S DARK IN HERE. Shit, who’s hand is that….” Then once the lights are back on you pray to all the Gods that you shut the developer pod properly. No wonder my anxiety went through the roof.

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Oh but the delight when you cracked it all open and the film comes out in this beautiful long grey strip, all processed and ready to be washed, hung and dried. Happy Days.

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I hope you’ve appreciated the cool contact print effects. I clearly thought I was at the height of photographic innovation!