Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure’s all you’ve known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go. Let it go. - Iridescent by Linkin Park
There’s a lot to be said for letting negative things go and moving on. I haven’t been feeling quite as down in the dumps as the quoted lyrics might suggest (I just adore that song!) but it’s definitely a time for refocusing and doing some more smiling. It’s also time for my summer coat – blonde hair is back!
As much as I like pushing the boundaries of reality with photography and creating images which look a little bit not-quite-of-this-world, it also feels right to sometimes shoot portraits (and self-portraits) that reflect reality in a strong way. Ok, so the false eyelashes aren’t exactly the epitome of the natural look, but there’s something quite refreshing about revelling in the fact that human skin has texture and hair can be messy.
We are wonderful, happy, untidy little creatures and that is worth celebrating
Shadows cannot live in the dark. They are servants of light. The children of fire. And the brighter the flame, the darker they are.
- Melisandre, Game of Thrones
With Beltane fast approaching, the element of fire is currently a big inspiration for me. At the risk of sounding like a pyromaniac, there are few things in life as appealing to my imagination as staring at brightly burning flames, especially when it’s a campfire surrounded by snow (which was where these pictures were taken). The longer you look, the more you see…
This weekend I was camping in the snow at Borthwick Castle near Gorebridge outside Edinburgh with some friends from Beltane Fire Society. As well as much toasting of marshmallows, passing around hipflasks of home-brewed mead and singing Tenacious D songs around the fire, there were lots of opportunities to take pictures.
This is one of my absolute favourites from the weekend. The moon was stunning and looked amazing against the bare trees in the dark. The first time it made an appearance, it vanished behind the clouds while I was digging my camera out of the tent. It came back into view later and I was prepared, with a tripod set up and hands warm enough to take my gloves off and operate the camera.
I really wanted to capture some detail in the moon and trees so I chose an aperture of f18 and balanced it with a slow shutter speed of 2.5 seconds. I get twitchy when I think about digital grain in a colour photo, so I kept to a low ISO of 200 and brought out the detail in the mid-tones during RAW processing.
There were quite a few of us being geeky about photography on that trip, which is always a lovely experience, comparing pictures, camera settings and lenses. For me, this photograph represents memories being made, happy times in beautiful places with wonderful people.
I was recently invited to give a talk about my work to the Creative Digital Group at the Edinburgh Photographic Society. It came as a surprise because I’m not involved with the Edinburgh Photographic Society in any way…it was just one of those “hey, I saw your work online” moments, which is actually pretty cool.
I don’t do a lot of talking about my work. This isn’t cause I’m a super elite artiste or cause my photography speaks for itself, thank you very much. It’s just because it feels kind of unusual to try and translate a purely visual medium into words. It doesn’t come naturally, at least not in a coherent way. Rather, it comes in fits and starts of conceptual rambling interspersed with technical bits and pieces.
So lately I’ve been trying to structure the free-floating particles of thought that make up my perception of my own photography into something that makes sense, something that people are going to enjoy listening to. I’ve settled on an exploration of three themes that run through most things that I shoot, regardless of genre or context…
Capturing an aspect of the subject’s personality or emotions, with that concept being the predominant message of the image.
Harnassing physical, technical and digital techniques to achieve a result that embraces the realms of imagination rather than attempting to create an enhanced perception of reality itself.
The Dark Side
Using special effects make-up and creating atmospheric conditions to explore visual and emotive perspectives on the more disturbing and challenging aspects of life.
So, on Monday 1st April I’ll be doing my thing and showing a bunch of photos from the last few years. I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’ll be an experience and a half!
Today was one of those days when I got to throw latex body paint and fake blood all over someone in the shower and it was good. Rachel Graves, the fabulous dreadlocked vixen in these photos, has been one of my closest friends for a long time and I always look forward to shooting together. Since we met, we very quickly reached a point where I didn’t need to direct her and she didn’t need to ask for direction. When we create art together, it just works. There’s a lovely connection that happens and we always have fun.
We giggle a lot, drink a lot of tea and create a lot of mess. When Rachel arrived today with a litre (a litre!) of fake blood (Grimas Filmblood A, in case you’re wondering, from A&A Studios, Edinburgh) and a rather large tub of blue liquid latex (Brand X), I knew it was going to be an entertaining afternoon. My bathroom, in traditional Edinburgh tenement style, is long and narrow. Somehow, we managed to get both of us and all my gear (including a light with a soft box) in there and totally wrecked the place. It was awesome. Following much scrubbing, it now looks like a bathroom again rather than an explosion in a paint factory.
There are more sets of photos from today which I’ll post over the coming couple of weeks. Life has been really busy this past little while and it felt good to just let go and be creative for a day. This was my first shoot of 2013 and I hope it’s indicative of the way things are going to go for the rest of the year!