If I’d been asked to make a film entirely by myself before lockdown then I would have said a firm no! To put this into context when making a film I usually have a producer, cinematographer, sound, digital tech, editor, colourist… the list could go on. Like many of us, being forced into a lockdown has caused me to reinvent myself. I’ve never been afraid of change; in fact, I positively invite it but make a film entirely on my own? And yet that is exactly what I did and I’m proud of it!
As a Canon Ambassador, photographer and filmmaker I felt that if I was to make a film about myself and my work then I should look at it no differently to any other film project. I love to share my influences, experiences and tell stories; in the last two years I’ve given over thirty separate talks all over EMEA for Canon and this gave me the idea for the framework of the film, tell stories about my work and experiences for others to hopefully enjoy and learn from.
I started with the subject of natural light and then portraiture, two things that are possible at home (if you’re on your own then it’s going to be a self-portrait) Lockdown for me was like the brakes being put on and everything just came to a full stop. I decided to use this as a means to tell my own story at a much slower pace than I would normally.I spend a lot of time in our garden and like many photographers am constantly framing and composing pictures in my mind’s eye through each and every minute and with that in mind I open my film as seen from my own point of view, a day in the life so to speak. During April and May I would get up early to catch the morning light then wait until sunset for the evening light and in between shoot from a rig above my print table.
The idea of photography as mindfulness is something that has intrigued me for a long time now and something that I’m finally exploring in my own work and teaching. I also wanted to share my love of three-dimensional lighting (Chiaroscuro) and my sources of inspiration from local 18th century artist Joseph Wright, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Rembrandt to Leonardo da Vinci. Initially I had intended to make a three-minute film and when the intro alone reached three minutes I realised this would be something more substantial and hopefully more meaningful. I love print and it seemed like the most natural vehicle as a means to tell stories about some of my favourite portrait shoots, I could hold the prints in my hands and of course my hands would help tell the story.
It’s not so much a film about the technical although I do focus on my continual obsession with light but more about the emotional. I’ve always been interested in the back stories to pictures and what the photographer was thinking, what were the challenges, how much time did they have to shoot etc. So much of portrait photography is about the connection we can build with the subject, the interpersonal skills and I wanted to try my best to use this film as a vehicle to share my own challenges and subsequent learnings and approach. Tea and Terence Stamp, Karen Gillan in Cannes, Downton Abbey, Canon Europe CEO and President Mr Ishizuka, Sir Don McCullin, Apollo Astronaut Al Worden, RNLI Volunteers and Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Making a film about yourself and on your own brings it’s own challenges but once I decided to commit myself and found the confidence and belief in myself to do this it became one of the most rewarding filmmaking experiences of my career.
Camera: EOSR / (5D MKIV for one sequence including EOSR body in shot) / Lenses: RF 50mm f1.2 I USM / EF 35mm f/1.4 II USM / EF 180mm f/3.5 USM Macro / EF 16-35 f/2.8L III USM / Shoot duration: 4 weeks / Set ups: 136 / Files: 370 ALLi 4K / Total folder size: 1.12TB / Audio: Rode mic direct to camera plus Zoom H6 input for V/O / Software: Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 and Adobe Audition for V/O / Printers: ImagePROGRAF PRO100 / 2000 / Paper: Hahnemuhle FineArt Pearl 285 gsm (archival) / Monitor: Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K / Computer: MacBook Pro / External drive: 80 TB G-SPEED Shuttle XL with Thunderbolt 3 / Additional: Cat: x1 Taby / Coffee: x2 tins fresh ground