I want my pictures to ask questions. I want people to look at my pictures and have an emotional response.
I'm always wondering about the similarities and differences between stills photography and movie making. I'm sure many have written their thesis on the close relationship between the two. Considering the concept of capturing a single frozen moment and seeing that in isolation or even as part of a narrative versus the concept of the motion picture and being the creator and director of an entire movie. But its not just the execution of the discipline that is interesting and worth comparing, its also the consumption and how we treat the two. When one considers photography one thinks of newspapers, magazines, family albums and weddings. With film one may like to see this is as a more entertainment based medium. Trips to the cinema and the reliable much loved family sitcom. There is a definite distinction there and naturally some cross over in my examples.
I spend much of my free time watching movies and taking great pleasure in watching them again and again and I’m fascinated by the director’s approach and of course so many other key creative elements that have gone into making the scene look as it does and convey the emotion and story through imagery. What other aspects have all contributed to make such a scene have the visual punch and emotion that it does. Whether it’s the lighting, colour palette, editing, angle and so forth. I am attached to movies just the same way as I am to photographs. Movies have had a significant impact on me growing up and subsequently my character and behavior. I would imagine this is how directors would want it to be and anyone that is not moved and affected in some way ought to have their pulse checked. I have so many wonderful movies at home in an antique trunk and it’s a treasure box of inspiration and movie magic.
Many photographers make the cross over into film and of course the other way around too. Bruce Weber has made some truly incredible adverts and films and is a very well respected filmmaker. When you watch Bruce Weber’s movies and ads you can clearly recognis,e its him behind the camera. His approach, style and subject is all so closely aligned to his stills photography. There are actors such as Denis Hopper who have made a name for themselves as very competent stills photographers. His photography is wonderful and clearly he has an affinity with his subject and like his life, his photography has an edge to it, a gritty realism. Some great photographers who have turned their skills to film making include; William Klein, Anton Corbijn and even the great Robert Frank.
So it’s quite often that I try to picture (sorry- too easy right, these photo puns), what a film or advert by Philip Berryman would look like. One movie that I have watched many, many times is Beyond the Clouds, the 1995 film by Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders. I never tire of watching this movie and there are so many scenes that I can happily replay over and over again. I like to think that a movie made by myself may have some of the sensitivity and beauty encapsulated in this wonderful film. Well it would be an incredible achievement if it had an ounce of the beauty and wonder of this movie. The movie is very thoughtful and enquiring. Exploring love and desire in a series of short stories. It is reflective and inspiring and naturally utterly beautiful. The cast is chosen for not only their physical beauty but depth of character and talent. The movie is made up of more than one love story and dips into moments of couple’s lives and explores their journey. Their emotions and sexual desires and frustrations are captured and pondered. The subject matter, approach, style and feel of this movie is surely aligned with how I may choose and approach a movie production. One of the actresses in the movie is Ines Sastre and every time I watch this movie, I promptly sit up, a smile comes across my face and for the entire time she is on screen I am enraptured. I had the pleasure of spending a day with Ines Sastre many years ago. I was commissioned by Marie Claire Magazine to photograph her. It was a hilarious day and she was such great company. She was charming, humorous and professional. Now I look back I cant believe I didn’t make more of that day and shoot better images and try to connect even more with her. She is Spanish and like many other Spanish women I’ve met, she is so beautiful both physically and as a person exuding so much feminine charm, humour and warmth. Ines, if you are reading this, which of course is highly likely, lets grab a drink soon…I’m free….er…kind of always!
So getting back to the thread of this blog and not swooning over Ines Sastre so much, yes, movies and photography. I would love to make an ad or a movie and try to channel the same visual approach and sensibility that I have with my photography into the film. Trying to maintain my own visual style and signature would be essential and I ponder exactly how I would do that. My first thought is like many photographers turned filmmakers, there would be’ a reliance on long takes that linger on scenes whether it be the actor, landscape scene or still life. Essentially you are recording and seeing the scene as stills. Moving scenes that you want to freeze and ask the viewer to take time to study and respond. In this case you are filming it and perhaps watching subtle changes whether it be wind in the landscape or subtle changes in a persons body and face. Moving from one careful sculptured and arranged static scene to another. But then having to factor in the need for dialogue and the flow of the story to unfold. In stills photography we use storyboards sometime and I certainly do when I can. I take great pleasure in story boarding a fashion shoot and considering the flow if the images throughout the story. Considering what image would work next to another on the double page spread. Not just the general composition such as a wide shot next to a close up portrait but also the colour and density of the image, is it static and posed or is it contrasted against a moving image filled with energy and excitement. Considering all of this is very similar to a moviemaker obviously.
So this movie rambling links with the shoot recently undertaken. I was one of the official photographers commissioned to shoot the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Awards in association with the BFI Awards Ceremony. The awards ceremony took place at Shoreditch’s Electric Light Station on October 10th2018 and I was one of Chris Allerton’s team photographic team. Chris is an extremely talented fashion and portrait photographer with whom I work with frequently. Joined on this commission by the very talented photographer Alex Lloyd, we make a formidable team. Together we spilt the duties and tasks of covering such a massive event and aim to cover everything to a high quality. We are each assigned duties and then focus on just that photographic duty and then collate our work at the end of the evening. My two duties were to capture close in headshots of guest at the tables during the dinner, speeches and awards. In addition I was to cover the red carpet and portraits in front of the ‘step and repeat’ sponsor board. Hence there are hardly any room shots and décor images in my set. The lighting in the room was particularly challenging but I hope that despite that there are some creative and revealing images.
Guests included host Rosamund Pike, Daniel Kaluuya, Natalie Dormer, Oliver Cheshire, Ronan and Storm Keating, Eliza Cummings, Ruth Wilson, Paul Sculfor, Sean Fitzpatrick, Lily Newmark, Anna Brewster, Laura Haddock, Renee Stewart and Charlie Casely-Hayford. The nominees for the award were Harry Wootliffe, Nicole Taylor and Richard Billingham. It was the very talented and humble Richard Billingham who eventually won the bursary.
I am not sure if people will have a significant emotional response to my images form this event but I sincerely hope that they are being consumed and enjoyed across the globe. Cant ask for more than that. Oh, except maybe a date with Ines.