Lynched…

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I have recently started working on a new photography project. ‘Lynched’ is a project inspired by the work and quirkiness of the brilliant David Lynch and will be live on my website soon.

Lynch has been one of my favourite directors/artist/photographer for years. I adore how he celebrates the horror and the quirks of the ordinary and manages to make statements out of silence.

I started shooting this project last month and so far it includes portraits and images of friends, family and models. I’m loving exploring the themes of the work…

The Guardian in the UK once described Lynch as “the most important filmmaker of the current era”. I think it’s difficult to disagree with that and he’s certainly the most important to me.

Video Killed the Radio Star… Will Netflix Kill the Cinema Star?

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It was 1980 and The Buggles burst into a verse of “Video killed the radio star”. It sounded like a warning, a premonition and a war cry all in one. Just one year later MTV launched and it would go onto become a phenomenon and video did indeed kill the radio star… Of course radio was still around and still relevant for that matter, it was just no longer necessary for an artist or band to “make it”. They had other outputs, other ways. The “look” and appearance of a band had never been more important. Flamboyancy took over. Whilst commercial radio continues to exist to this day, I would think a band or artist are more likely to be discovered on a podcast, or a Spotify playlist as far as audible measures are concerned. Of course the music video is possibly more important than ever with the runaway, commercial success of YouTube.

When I saw that the original Netflix film ‘Rome’ had been Oscar nominated it made me ask if the age of cinema is coming to an end. Perhaps with escalating prices, Hollywood embarrassments and scandals along with streaming service providers offering genuine content, it can now be said that streaming is going to kill the movie star. You have to believe people in Hollywood can see it themselves. There has recently been a host of what would be considered Hollywood golden A stars signing up to do movies and tv series on streaming services. What if this is their curve point? They tried 3D to make the cinema experience more interactive but in reality, it only had limited success – if you need glasses to watch a movie – try putting your specs, over your specs. Or maybe you could pay thirty bucks for you and your partner to sit in a room next to the annoying person who needs a toilet break every three minutes in between eating his nachos, checking his phone and talking to his partner… It’s not going to be an easy task for them is it? Can the Hollywood elite turn it around, when the tide seems to be ever changing against them?

£10 a month for Netflix is great value for money and the content is constantly updating and changing. It is actually their original content that has always been invaluable to gaining me as a customer (or consumer). In the last decade or so, I can’t help but think the movie industry has had ample chances to turn it around, but have largely failed every time. Similar plots, the same old tired actors been cast as the same old, tired characters. Sequel after sequel after sequel with little or no emphasis placed on either young film makers or female writers/directors?

Surely it stands to reason that the next and future generations of filmmakers don’t have a cinema release within their dreams, but a Netlfix release?

 

MiNT TL70

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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.

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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.

*****

 

The Jack of all trades…

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“What do you shoot?” If you’re a photographer how often have you been asked that question? Or even the dreaded one; “What sort of a photographer are you?” I’m never sure how to answer it –  Umm… the best one I can be?

We’re guilty of it too. We constantly try and put fellow professionals into boxes, genres and categories. “Oh, she’s an art photographer”or “he’s a wildlife photographer” and so on. I’s taken me almost 15 years in the industry and getting to the grand old age of 38 to realise we can be all things, without the need for explanation. The things I shoot tend to be very varied. I guess most of my living has come from “art” photography, but my first nationally published book would be considered more landscape photography than art photography.

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You see, fashion, art and travel are the genres that interest me, so of course that’s what I want to shoot, that’s what I want to share. I no longer buy into the ideology of having a style or genre. Why limit myself? Fuck it! I might head off to work on a Monday morning to shoot a model for a portfolio or an advertising camapaign and I might be in Berlin the week after shooting travel images. I want to shoot the things I love to shoot. No boundaries, no questions.  So as I roar into my forties (hey, it’s only a year and a bit away) I have dedicated myself to shooting what I want, when I want.

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So maybe the next time someone asks me “What do you shoot?” I can simply reply with “Anything I want to”.

A Photographers Love of Polaroids: An Instant Love Affair.

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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.

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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.

Fade To Black…

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‘Fade To Black’ by Carl Beebee. Click on image for high res version.

Fade To Black is a series of self portraits that explore and recreates the initial, early days of separation and divorce.

The depression, loneliness, confusion and drinking that engulfs your life to a point where you feel like an outsider staring in at your own world – your own movie…

These images (others added to carlbeebee.com soon) portray the moments in the darkness – the time where reflection is essential.

They portray an ending. A final scene. The fade to black moments.