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Getting Behind The Camera

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook feeds then you'll know that I've been out and about on location, playing with my (large format) camera.

The first half of the Masters Degree course has been incredibly research heavy, and for a while there I had to put the act of physically creating images on the back burner. But now I've finally carved out a solid direction for my project which means I can drag out the equipment and spend some time creating.

Heading out into a local woods with my trusted make up artist, Holly, my model, Charlotte, and my good friend, drone pilot and fellow photographer, Gordon, we spent the day having fun, experimenting, and entertaining the dog walkers.

The idea behind this shoot is to explore and create a representation of what living with depression can be like. There'll be more on the why's behind this project in another blog, for now I just wanted to share some of the behind the scenes shots, as it were.

Having never done an on location shoot with the 5x4 camera, it's fair to say I was somewhat nervous. Studio work is so much easier in that you have control over everything - room temperature, lighting, where props are placed - not to mention, you have all the equipment to hand so no need to worry about forgetting anything. Whereas out on location you have to make do if you forget things, and it's tough luck if you're in a public space and Janet and Fred want to trample past with their overly friendly labradoodle, Zuess! You just have to roll with the punches.

So make up was applied in the glamorous carpark, the change facilities for Charlotte were non existent, and I had to find the most suitable spot without uprooting trees or cutting down branches. We had an array of people passing by and the lighting varied from one minute to the next but non of it stopped us.

We were a well oiled machine, working together to create 16 wonderful 5x4 negatives that will (hopefully) go on to create a stunning, visual narrative of the experience of living with depression.

Charlotte was the perfect model. As well as being completely receptive to any and all instructions, she was patient, calm and confident. As a dancer she is very aware of her body position and lines, which also made my job so much easier.

I was also incredibly lucky enough to rope in Gordon as my 'assistant' and bonus videographer! Gordon is a fellow comrade on the Masters Degree course and is looking to create a short film using drones for his project. Luckily for me, he brought along his equipment and was able to film some of the proceedings, not only from the camera on the tripod but the drone too. I have to say, as someone who can't even manage a RC car, I was beyond impressed with his ability to navigate the canopy of branches and leaves not to mention the tree trunks.

All in all, despite the numerous bug bites (for Gordon) and the bloodied knee (me), it was a very successful shoot/experiment. Having made a quick, digital contact sheet of the negatives using an app called FilmLab, I am confident that we got everything I needed and more.

This week I'm heading into the darkroom to start the next chapter of this particular story, fingers crossed it ends just as happily!

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