This past Christmas my wife bought me the MiNT Camera TL70 – a twin lens reflex camera that shoots on Fujifilm Instax Mini film. It’s a beautiful looking camera, modelled and designed on the vintage twin lens camera systems.
The camera, has a aperture range of f5.6 to f.22 and boasts a shutter speed range of of 1/500 – 1 second in Automatic mode and up to 10 seconds in Bulb mode.
Since having the camera I’ve mostly shot fashion shoots with my wife as well as snapshots whilst out walking, as I’ve not yet felt confident enough to use the camera in a pro shoot. In fact, after shooting approximately 8 rolls of film, I think it’s only now that I’m getting used to the cameras capabilities and limits – both of which, there are many.
I absolutely adore this camera but it definitely has its quirks. Focusing, can at times be difficult, but if you get the focus right, with enough light, the f5.6 aperture can look incredible. In fact I would definitely suggest it has been worth the perseverance.
I have long loved Polaroid film and instant photography in general – I think it’s about having something physical and present in your hand as soon as the shutter is released. Watching the image appear – just like I did in a darkroom all those years ago, has never lost it’s magic for me. It’s one of those things that can remind you of why you fell in love with photography in the first place. I think personally for me recently Polaroid film has just outpriced itself somewhat – I still love the square format but at almost £20 for 8 exposures, I find it hard to compete with the Instax at £15 for twenty – and sometimes cheaper.
My portraits have definitely got better, the more I have come to understand the camera. Just below is one of the very first portraits I took with the Fujifilm black and white Instax film, and to the right of it is one of the latest images I have taken – both on the sytems f5.6 aperture.
There’s a definite “mood” to the portraits it takes which I really like.
In a world where everyone has a camera in their pocket – the MiNT is a definite conversation starter. I’ve been asked about the camera on several occasions whilst out shooting. Good or bad (good in my case) it’s probably about as “hipster” as it gets!
If you’re someone who likes to shoot Instax film, ‘d definitely recommend this camera. Quirks and all – it is just so much fun to use for portraiture and still life.
You can follow my adventures with my mint on my specific Instagram page here.
Shoot what you love… That’s what they tell you. Someone told me it when I first started shooting. I’m not sure who told me that, maybe it was one of my lecturers, maybe someone else. Come to think of it, maybe I just read it somewhere. I’m really not sure, but that’s not the point…
In my day to day life, throughout the years I have worked with hundreds of models and actors etc, capturing their portrait. But as much as I have enjoyed every single shoot, my very favourite person to photograph is my wife Emma. I think a lot of it is because, obviously, I now her so well. I already have a connection with and I already know what will work really well and what might not work so well. I think comfort comes into play here too. I’m comfortable enough to ask Emma to do anything for a shoot and she’s comfortable enough with me to do it. It instantly knocks down boundaries. She has seen, and lived with my frustration first hand when I haven’t quite got the “the shot”. She understands how much it plays on my mind, how much it bothers me. That’s why I think she’s always patient with me while I’m shooting her. She understands I have a vision for the aesthetic of the shot, and she’ll work tirelessly to make sure we achieve it.
I bet if I had to pick the favourite 50 portraits I’ve ever taken, at least half (and probably more) would be of Emma. She has soaked herself in fake blood, hung around town centres at 2.00am, got drunk and even pretended to murder me, all for the sake of my photography. The most recent shots I took of her, are the ones above – taken on a rare sunny afternoon. The ‘Model’ t shirt is really apt, as I’m pretty sure she’s probably been photographed a lot more than a lot of professional models.
I already can’t wait for our next shoot…
Alt Travel Photography, I’m not even sure that’s a real thing, but regardless it’s the description I’ve gone with for this particular project. Let me try and explain a little…
Every holiday (or vacation to those of you in the States) I come back with a handful of photographs. You know the kind; selfies, a few pics of the beach etc. The kind of photos I always refer to as “snapshots”. This is nice and all and upon my return I put them in a folder on my Mac, or occasionally get them printed. They’re nice memories to keep and look at a handful times over the years, but it kind of ends there. I decided this year I wanted to try something different…
This past November my Wife and I headed on a working holiday in the beautiful coastal town of Santa Susanna – a short journey from Barcelona and very much in Catalan territory. Before we left I had already decided that I wanted to give this “alt travel photography” a shot. I wanted to create something different. Obviously whilst there I’d still take the selfies etc for personal use, but I wanted to really think and create a set of images I’d happily publish, or at the very least share on my website.
Everywhere we went, everywhere we explored, every activity it made me conscious of taking photographs. Finding a unique shot whilst still documenting our journey and our week. The day we had chosen to go into Barcelona city happened to be the day of the Catalan general strike which saw over 100,000 people take to the streets to protest against police brutality, and stand for democracy. I included only a couple of photographs from this day, partly because it’s not exactly what I wanted this project to be and partly out of respect for those protesting…
I knew from the get go I wanted to include portraits of us both but still capture the beautiful landscapes and surroundings. So that’s what this project is. ‘Alt travel photography”? I’m not sure, but it’s certainly alt for me. Something different, something that made my creative brain tick and something that led to a series work I’m proud of, all whilst experiencing a beautiful place in a sometimes drunken, but always happy state.
To view the full gallery please click on the following link: Sleepless in Susanna by Carl Beebee.
If I spoke to ten different photographers from ten different backgrounds, working within ten different areas of the field, I would hazard a guess that at least eight of them would have a love for the instant photograph. Whether it be the age-old chemical process of the Polaroid or the (relatively) new electronic mechanism of the Instax. They probably wouldn’t be able to explain their love or fully understand it themselves. Like a married person in the heat of an affair. Unable to comprehend it, or explain it but fascinated by it. Drawn to it.
For me, I think it’s the physical attribute of the process. It is the anti-digital but with the same immediate result. Look through the viewfinder, release the shutter, and seconds later you are holding a physical print. Something to keep, to frame, to use as a bookmark or prop up on a shelf. It gives you an instant sense of ownership, something that will live with you. In a similar way that the 12” records from the 60s and 70s look like they have been lived with – they look like they could tell a story. Every crease and coffee stain revealing something else. Put this in comparison to shooting 35mm film and it’s easy to understand the love of the instant. For most people – or at least those like me who don’t own darkrooms, you can shoot a roll of film and wait up to a week for the prints to arrive with you. It’s somehow just not the same for me. It doesn’t have the same substance. I feel a little withdrawn from the process of it.
A few months ago I went away for a weekend with my Wife, I decided to document the trip on the Fuji Instax Mini (discussed in this blog post). I took approximately 40 exposures, and those photographs have already been looked at dozens more times that the equivalent would have been – ten to twenty photographs lurking in a gallery on my iPhone. Pushed further and further down the gallery with each click of the shutter and with each screenshot.
I like things in my life that are unpredictable. Nights out, late nights, work projects. Unpredictability fascinates me. That’s what instant film offers. It’s like the unplanned “quick pint” with your friend that ends with a 4.00 am drinking session and an almighty hangover. You’ll never know what you’re going to get with instant film. You can do your best to create the “perfect” shot. Check your lighting, stage your subject, but I can almost guarantee you won’t get the same results twice. With limited to no control over exposure, ISO, and shutter speed, and without the ability to look through a single lens, every image will be different. Each will have it’s own personality. It’s own failings and equally it’s own brilliance.
This is nothing new, photographers have been fascinated with instant film since it came to light. Professionals used it, families used it. There would have been countless nude photographs taken of partners, hidden at the bottom of drawers during a time where instant photography was the only private photography.
Maybe all of that is part of it’s charm. Today there are artists who only shoot on instant film. I truly admire that but have to admit it’s not something I could do. After a week or so I’m always pretty happy to go back to the comfort of my DSLR, like the cheating partner walking back through the door of his house. It feels like going home.
When you think of instant film it’s hard not to think of the resurgence of analogue. Vinyl is back in record stores and outselling physical CD’s. It’s a throwback to a simpler time, a time when “things” meant something. A time where things weren’t thrown away. A time where not everything was considered disposable.
– Carl Beebee.
**A new and ongoing photography project**
Come to Herefordshire and you’ll be surprised by its natural beauty, the green fields, untouched landscapes and the tranquility of the idyllic market towns and villages, where people try desperately to grasp onto a time and period that has all but passed. You will probably fall in love with Herefordshire and remark to your nearest and dearest how it’s such a wonderful place to visit. You may even want to retire here…
But dig a little deeper, cut it open and you might find a very different story. A very different county. You might find a story of the lowest wages in the West Midlands, a story of constant compromise, a story of a Tory seat that has largely been unopposed for the last two decades. Cut deeper and you will see a county that has placed all of its funding into one city centre. A failed regeneration that has left everywhere else behind it, in its murky shadow. You’ll find quiet streets – and I don’t mean in the tranquil way you may think of – but in a way where a lack of true investment, opportunity and a disposable income has emptied the streets until they look like a damaged Hopper painting.
This project is not about the people here. By large, the people here are good, honest and hard working. There are of course people who do not want change. They don’t understand it. There are also plenty of the “love it or leave it” brigade and there are people who undoubtedly deserve better. People who have been let down by a place where social injustice is being pushed into the very forefront.
Herefordshire is of course beautiful too. There are countless books and postcards to demonstrate that. There is an undeniable charm here, but the things and places that will be photographed for this project, unlike other counties, are not hidden. They are not relegated to the back streets, they are on our doorsteps, outside of our houses, in our town centres. Unhidden, unapologetic and in plain view. They are a constant reminder of an unbalanced county and an unbalanced economy. It is compromised and frequent, it is every part of our county. It is in equal measure to the beauty, the charm and the silence.
Look past the natural beauty and the over marketed history and you’ll see it. Clear as day. A political commentary? Perhaps. But it will be a definite and honest autopsy of the place I call home.
– Carl Beebee.
FATALE test shoot – 03/2017
Blogging, you have to blog right? (Is this ‘blogging’ on here?). Everyone tells me I have to blog. My agents tell me, my publicist tells me, so do my clients, friends and everybody else. I have to blog. I enjoy blogging I’m just not great at finding the time to do it, and I don’t pretend I’m actually any good at it. But I’m not bothered about that. I think I’m meant to blog about work and life but ironically those are the two things that seem to get in the way of me blogging. Let’s face it, there’s things I’d rather do than blog; spending time with my family, visiting galleries, drinking, fucking, shooting. All of the things that fill my life and generally make me happy. As I mentioned, I enjoy blogging, just generally not as much as the other things I’ve mentioned. I guess I need to find a way around this, but for now I’m going to tell you a little about what I’ve been working on because that seems as good as reason as any to blog.
Most of my time at the moment is taken up by working on my new book ‘FATALE’. My agents want this released in November of this year but that means a really tight schedule. I’m photographing approximately 50 women for the book. A mixture of professional models, friends, people I’ve known for a few years and people I’ve never met. It is a portrait of the real FATALE’s of 2017. The girl who lives next door, the woman you see down the street, the Mother dropping her kids off at school. It’s cool, sexy, seductive and different. I was recently asked to sum the book up in one line. My answer was “it’s a fuck you Hollywood” — and it is. There’s another slice of irony there considering I got this book deal on the back of my previous book ‘California Calling’. That leads me onto something else I’m working on… In the next couple of months I’m releasing a new version of ‘California Calling’ exclusively to the iBookstore — hopefully there will be more news on that very soon.
I’ve also been working on a short documentary filming a duo who are in the UK from the States to record an EP. Actually, this is something I’d like to blog about but I’m contracted to keep my mouth shut until the release. That’s irony biting me firmly on my ass again.
Those are the things that are currently filling up my schedule along with the things I mentioned earlier. I’m going to try and blog more but I must admit that this is something I’ve said before. The intention is there. The will is there. If there was a school report for it, it would simply read “must try harder”.
Thanks for reading… See you in the pub.
Every New Year it gets me. Like clockwork, the creative slump drags me down every January. I know some people who enter the New Year full of life and hope. The gyms get busier and the bars get quieter, but historically January has always been a royal pain in the ass for me. I just get a complete block on any creative ideas. Much like authors can suffer for years with writers block, this grabs hold of me and seemingly never wants to let me go.
It’s not that I haven’t tried in the past, but every idea is met with a depressing “what’s the point” attitude. Or a feeling and thought that it wouldn’t be saying anything. It’s a hard chain to break and usually for this month I only ever use my camera for “work”.
This year I was determined to break the slump. I didn’t want to go big but I wanted to feel creative. I wanted to create something that I liked, that interested me, regardless of whether I eventually shared it with an audience.
I came to the conclusion that the best way to do this was to shoot something I’d enjoy, without necessarily worrying about its relevance, context or artistic merit. With that in mind I booked myself and my Wife two nights away in a city centre hotel in Birmingham. I stocked up on Fuji Instax film and decided I’d document our drunken fueled weekend getaway. As soon as we got there and I started I instantly felt good about the project. It was great shooting something for myself rather than a client.
In the end I did share 30 of the of the instant photographs and I’m quietly (or not so much now) pleased with them. (You can view the photos here) Not only are they a great reminder of our time away but they have a feel and a look to them I love. They look like part of a documentary photo essay. Are they saying anything? No. Does that matter? No. Because I returned and felt that the annual creative slump had this year passed me by. Which in fairness, with a book to get finished this year is pretty important.
If you’re creatively suffering, whether you’re a photographer, writer, painter or any other artist my advice would be just to create. Don’t worry about what it’s for or what the point is. Just create. Shoot, write, paint. Anything. The only way I have personally found to defeat the slump is to ‘do’…
When photography is your day to day “job” I think it becomes increasingly difficult at times to remember one of it’s most important uses; the ability to capture time and create a memory.
In a few short weeks myself and my girlfriend will be married, selfies aside I have very few (deliberate) pictures of us together that I really love, because after the completion of commissions, traveling and the general burden of day to day life, I often never get around to setting shots up. I get home and my camera is packed away until the next job.
I’m starting to make a real conscious effort to change this, because I want to remember this time in an artistic way. I want to look back in ten, twenty years time and remember what we looked like, what we wore, what our apartment was like etc. I want to remember the details. I want to have proof of them.
Although the photograph above is “staged” and stylized it is very ‘us’. This is how we hang out, this is what we do. This is our house. These are all of the details that I want printed in my memory.
I’ve tried these personal projects before, and honestly most of the time I have failed miserably, but I intend to start “creating” a photograph of the two of us once a week. Some of them I will post, some of them will remain private. But I’ll have them. To keep. To remember. To check. To look back on when tomorrow becomes yesterday.
011/365 – Geisha.
So I am only day 12 into my 365 project and I have to say I’m finding it more difficult than I first considered… Although, I guess it’s inevitable, I’m really trying to stay away from “point and shoot” images. I’m doing my best to work on the photographs each day; come up with an idea and concept and shoot it. For obvious reasons – the main one being time – this is much easier said than done.
The image above was taken on my Pentax DSLR yesterday and it’s one of my favorite images of the project so far. It’s deliberately under exposed and shot on RAW as I wanted a dark, grungey and grainy effect for the shoot. For this image I just used one flash light to the side of the model.
I’m trying to be very varied in the photographs I’m shooting for the project – mixing up iPhone shots and DSLR shots.
However, make no mistake, even so early on I can see the benefits of this project. Even on days where I am full up with meetings and editing etc I’m still “forced” to shoot, and enter the creative process. I remain pretty determined to see the project through. Already there are some photographs I prefer to others which I guess is natural. On the flip side of that there are photographs I’ve taken for it that have really grown on me. I’m also keeping a journal and entering information each evening about that days photograph; just things like how I shot it, how I feel about it. I’m finding this very handy as it helps me keep track of what I’ve shot and what I need to focus on. It will also be a real benefit if I decide to publish this in print at any point.
You can see my 365 project at: http://beebee365.tumblr.com/
Thanks for reading.
Just a very brief note with a little news…
Very pleased to say that this week I have signed a contract to write and release a theory book. The book ‘Photography Philosophy & Creative Context’ will be available to buy next year. In all honesty I’m a little daunted by the task in hand – and the idea of writing 30,000 words is terrifying me… But dammit, we’ll give it a good go… I’ll keep posting updates on here and maybe a few snippets of the writing to get a little feedback off you good people.
Ok, on a completely separate note – as far as my Facebook goes I have now all but given up on using my ‘page’ as any kind of worthwhile tool. It seems other than sponsored posts things aren’t really seen from other pages. I’m concentrating on using Instagram more now – both for personal bits and work related things. So please give me a follow on there http://www.instagram.com/carlbeebee (@carlbeebee)
As ever – thanks very much for reading. It is very much appreciated.
See you on the road.
Bro&Brew has now launched – if you’re an artist or writer please head to the site and go to the SUBMIT page if you’d like to have your work featured…
For my part – I’m going to be shooting a new model each month for the online version of the magazine. Above is 2 images from my first shoot with model Phoenix Ra.
Please go check out the site – it’s still a work in progress but any feedback would be greatly received.
As mentioned in my previous post; I’ve recently been working on a new project. ‘Trash Tuesday – The Film Stills’ is now all available to view on my website. There’s 25 images plus an artist statement. Please take a look if you get the chance by clicking here.
Speaking of my website, it’s had a bit of a facelift. With a new landing and home page we’ve also added a ‘news’ page and updated the other pages. The site should now be faster and more accessible on mobile devices… Please view my site by clicking here.
Ok, ok, ok… So first off I need to apologise for the recent absence of my blog. I seem to spend all my time either too busy to blog or simply not motivated enough to. Hence – blogging ain’t easy.
I have, however, been working on a couple of projects recently. ‘Trash Tuesday – The Film Stills’ will go live on my website within the next couple of weeks. There’s a taster image above but in total there will be approximately 20 images in the collection. I wanted to something a little different, and I have to say I’m really pleased with the results. Each image represents a single frame from a film – It is not the intention of the images to offer any answers. I am much more concerned with the questions.
Starting next month I’ll be writing a fortnightly column for a magazine – although each column will be about photography don’t expect any tech info or testing etc. The column will completely be the philosophy of photography, my experiences within the industry and other rants and rumblings. They’re not going to be to everybody’s taste and I don’t mind that – but I’ll be posting them on here anyway. I hope some of you enjoy them and partake in the conversation via the comments section…
As always, thanks for reading.
‘The Un-United Kingdom – 2003 by Carl Beebee.
I created this photograph 11 years ago and it seems fitting to post it today considering on this day the fate of a nation and a “United Kingdom” will be decided.
This piece of work was originally titled ‘Jack’ but was part of a series for exhibitions called the ‘Un-United Kingdom’.
The majority of people mis-read the concept of the photograph completely. Admittedly this could be my fault for not explaining well enough but lots of people considered it to be unpatriotic – it was even once deemed “racist”. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believed at the time (and still believe) that collectively as a nation we need to reclaim nationalism from the right wing extremists…
I guess if nothing else it serves to remind me that at times it really is best to explain the meaning/concept behind a particular piece or series of work.