So today Lockdown 2.0 was lifted which meant that BCE in Bradford was open and I was literally the first person through the door. I was very eager to get my films developed and to see the results of my labours. During the 80s shoot I did with Apollo, I used my Olympus OM10 which is previous shoots had produced really blurry images which I think was down to the light meter inside becoming faulty. During this shoot I made sure to shoot a the fastest shutter speed possible which has resulted in nice clear images…for the most part. I may have been too focused on the shutter speed and aperture and forgotten about the focus as a result, so some images are out of focus. However, there aren’t many of these and most of the images are crystal
I still have the same misgivings about these images as I did about the ones I took on the Canon, as I used both cameras on the shoot. The models aren’t in ideal poses, i haven’t used the light, there is ,well enough and the shoot just highlights how rusty I am when it comes to working with models.
I also managed to get the 90s shoot developed as well and these are by the far the images I am most pleased with. The Boots 100FF was made in the mid nineties and has a fixed 35mm lens stuck at f8 with no options for changing shutter speed or aperture but it does have the option to switch on the built in flash. The results are genuinely nineties. By this I mean that using a film camera of the period mixed with a model who is authentically dressed and styled from that era has produced a result that look like the images were taken 25 years ago and not a week ago.
It was also quite a strange experience going from a heavy, multi-optioned DSLR to a light, plastic almost toy quality camera. It was enjoyable though, especially when it came to rewinding the film after a shot was taken as it sounded so cheap and brought back memories of using the camera when i was a kid.
The images where the flash as been used, they look so reminiscent of family photos in old photo albums that I cant help but smile at them, same with the images that are almost completely underexposed. I guess nostalgia is a reason I like these images so much but I do think that using this camera on this 90s shoot has given a level of authenticity to the images that would have been very difficult to achieve via digital manipulation and really does bring the viewer into the 1990s which is exactly what I was after.
The final shoot this week was requested by Poorva who wanted a model of an older age in order to illustrate that the mask is meant for anyone and everyone regardless of age. My mum very kindly volunteered for this shoot despite me making her aware of why I wanted to shoot her. These images were shot with the intention of being placed on the website and Instagram account so I tried to keep this in mind during the shoot.
There was a time limit on these proceedings due to my mums work, and a drive to Huddersfield from Castleford ate into that time but the shoot went well. I used the same location as the 80s shoot, the plaza and market to add to the relevance to the project but also taking on board criticism from other collaborative practitioners that the 90s shoot didn’t take place in the same area and that made the images less genuine, an assessment I do not agree with. Before the shoot took place I looked up some images from Long Tall Sally, a women’s fashion brand that caters to tall women to try and make the images more elegant and to take advantage of the height of my mum. The images on the mobile site were more geared to the clothes and had images of models wearing them in a studio, the website was also heavily focused on Black Friday and the sales that day so it was probably geared towards shifting units more than anything and probably not the right time to use the site for my purposes.
I tried to make use of my mum’s height in some shots and I was also conscious of the intended market for these images so I used a tree to place her against and to keep a neutral background to the images. Using graffiti and shops etc would, in my mind, not appeal to those people who read Red magazine and similar, a publication I tried to keep in mind as well. The images were not coming out as I wanted and the mask was being ignored with the gaze going straight to the model and her coat rather than the mask, which is what we were there to shoot. I switched focus and concentrated on making sure the mask was centre of attention. Again the bright white of the mask aided this, especially against the dark green coat she had on and using darker backgrounds also aided this. I wish my speedlite had been working for this shoot, it was early morning and overcast and I would have liked to have had some light fill in the darker areas of the images to make them pop a little more but unfortunately my speedlite would not communicate with my camera and I could not fix it. I also utilised the Polaroid camera on this shoot having managed to get it working, and I will be scanning in those images as soon as I can but my home scanner seems to invert the colours so this is another challenge to overcome.
A part of me wishes I had spent more time getting the full body poses just as I wanted them but then I think that those kinds of images would have detracted from the mask and that these images aren’t for me and my final year project, but are for a wider audience and also to be used to market an item that is worn on the face so full body shots and elegant poses are probably not necessary
Today I did have a plan with a friend of mine, Nish, to do a 90s style photography shoot, using cameras of that era, as I did with yesterdays shoot. The cameras I used this time was a Boots 100AF which I cant find a date for but I’ve had it since I was about 10, and a Polaroid 600SE, again a difficult camera to date precisely. Unfortunately Nish had a family emergency which he notified me about only an hour before the shoot was due to commence but my friend Rob, himself a photographer was able to step in last min and even had some convincing 90s attire and curtains style hair that was popular at the time.
Rob was unable make it to Huddersfield, where Nish was due to meet me, so we met in his hometown of Doncaster rather than risk not having a shoot at all. Rob was a natural model, changing his pose between shots and coming up with his own ideas as we shot which made the process much easier and added to the quality of the final outcome. I did my best to find as many areas that looked as 90s as possible or as ambiguous about the location as possible as it was meant to be photographed in Huddersfield. When I eventually shared the images amongst my group colleagues, one of them wrote off the entire set as she could see that they were clearly not shot in Huddersfield.
Despite this reaction I am pleased with the outcome of this shoot and I do think it is much stronger than the 80s style shoot. I spent time reflecting on the outcome of the last shoot to see what I could do differently and the first thing that came to mind was to make sure that I make the mask the focus, not the novelty of the period I chose to shoot in or the fact that I am using different cameras. This focus can be seen by the fact the eyes are drawn to the mask first rather than the background. Obviously the fact that the mask is white helps with this but in some images I have used Rob’s hands or feet to draw the viewer into the image which makes them more successful. I
It was a little strange switching from the Canon, a big camera which becomes heavy when the 24-70mm ‘L’ lens is attached, to the Boots 100FF which is the antithesis of its digital forebear. It is significantly smaller and made entirely if plastic, even the spools that drag the film around. It has a fixed F8 35mm lens with a flash that surprisingly still works. The viewfinder is tiny in comparison and it has no light meter inside to tell you the exposure, a feature the 13 year older Olympus OM10 has. I look forward to seeing the images when the photo labs open as Bradford Camera Exchange, my normal lab, has closed during lockdown 2. The Polaroid failed to work for some reason so I will look into that in time for the next shoot.