I feel so emotionally invested in this project though that it may be getting in the way. Last night after developing the first roll of images that captured Simon from Goldfern Honey and his family, I sat scanning with a feeling of panic as I watched the images appear on the screen. I want every session of this project to be a great experience for the subjects, myself and my developing process. But I may be setting to high a standard from the start. I’ve got to be more at peace with myself if sometimes things don’t go to plan as I’m choosing to capture this project on film that has an inbuilt capacity to sometimes ‘just not work as planned’ and look softer than its digital counterpart. I’m 100% OK with these realities when it comes to all of my other film photography, but I guess this project is my most important series to date, and I have high expectations of the results. This emotional roller coaster to most sounds dreadful, but it’s this journey in film that makes the whole experience worth the time and effort, as when it does all come together it is utter magic! It’s a constant learning process that I’m 100% invested in and it literally gets me out of bed day after day. I can’t say the same for digital anymore. I am telling myself that worst case scenario, I can always reshoot portraits in this series if required, and that’s OK.
I’m also struggling to decide if I go all in black or white or colour for the series, and It’s a discussion to have with the critique group today at ARA as we move into week 4 of the project. I was pretty set on shooting all of this series on Ilford HP5, but feedback last week was that colour may be a better option for publishing prospects. I’ve had plans to shoot colour but not as a majority of images made, and as more a ‘few here and there’, but maybe colour is more important? I’ve been exploring a lot of fine art photography books from the fantastic University of Canterbury Library this week, and I was in some way compelled to select a stack of work that was captured in colour. Alec Soth’s new book “I know how furiously your heart is beating” in particular got me thinking more seriously about using colour for this project as each of his images plays homage to coloured elements within the frame adding meaning to the story of the portrait. Flicking though his amazing work feels like a journey of discovery and if I’m honest, colour plays a large role in this experience.
He also talks about allowing the creative portrait process to unfold naturally without exploitive practice- but that’s a discussion for another blog post. Looking through the pages of the books with most being coloured, I now feel inspired to at least shoot colour as much as possible when it comes to the portraits of people at their home or comfortable spaces. It’s a good compromise, and I can capture some monochrome too if it unfolds that way, but for now I’m set on colour for this series as a whole, with black and white for ‘B-roll’ as such. This is the reverse of my initial plans. This first set of portraits are of Simon and his family at their Cashmere home. Shot on Kodak Portra 400 on the Rolleicord VB rated at ISO 200 instead of 400. Images developed at home using Cinestill chemistry and scanned using a Epson V550.
While not ideal, the set was shot fully open at F3.5 which does add a dream like feeling to the images. Again… do I want this aesthetic? It’s the reality of film though with set ISO, when the light is so dark, and I’m not brave enough yet to push (develop longer to achieve a higher ISO) the film, so I have to work with what I have. Overall I’m stoked with the set and even happier to have got the first portrait done and dusted! I’ve got quite a list of leads to shoot over the coming weeks and excited to see how it unfolds, and I’ve moved from a list of contacts in Word- with notes- to a CRM at Capsule. This is helping me keep on top of the admin associated with managing shoots, follow ups, model releases and posing the series of questions, and is free to use upto 250 contacts.
Update. After todays group critique I’ve decided to make the process of image making simple and utilise both cameras to capture colour and black and white. My heart says shoot exclusively monochrome, but it makes sense to give my self as many options as possible moving towards trying to get this work published. As part of my image taking process, and as you may well see in this set of images, I tend to shoot ‘scenes’ in 3’s if it takes my fancy. I aim to shoot 3 colour, swap cameras, and shoot 3 black and white, and if time allows and the subject is not annoyed, repeat until I’ve captured 24 images across two rolls. Simon was happy to shoot more work so maybe we will do a second round in his beautiful back yard in the coming months. Options are good!
If you liked this post and want to support my work, could you please share it? You can share by using the icons on the right or below. Thank you!