Please welcome our week 18 presenter, Sweet Distin, as curated by smoothdude.
1) Tell us about where you're living right now and how that influences your photography.
I live in Salisbury, in England with my family. It's a medievel city surrounded by beautiful countryside, and whilst I enjoy taking landscapey type pictures (of old sarum particularly) I don't think this locality in particular has much of an influence on my photography. I like all things really, interior domestic scenes, portraits, suburbs, beach....it's whatever triggers something in my head or catches my eye or simply wanting to illustrate something, like lyrics or a feeling....not so much the location.
2) Where do you get most of your subjects?
I'm incredibly lucky to have some amazing children, particularly my daughter (above), who has been patient beyond all hope. She has sat for me endlessly, although she does sometimes say no, and I've realized that there is no point trying to talk her round because it shows quite clearly in the pictures :) I've also been borrowing my oldest son's friends lately, particularly for the behind the glass project (I need to give it a name) and it's great to have other subjects, particularly the boys....I hope to photograph more of their friends over time. My children check everything before it's posted too, if they say no, they don't like it, then it doesn't go up....sometimes you'll see things disappear because of that. I've tried taking pictures of strangers but I find it difficult...I feel that I'm imposing on their time which makes me feel tense and that comes across in the pictures, although in the next few weeks I'm going to do a session with the lovely Lizzy who works at the photolab (her suggestion)...I'm going to have to really think about what I want to do before hand, which'll be a different sort of challenge for me.
3) What kind of emtion are you trying to get from your subjects?
I'm mainly just trying to get them, who they are....I don't generally tell them how to look, unless they ask, though I may direct them into the best light....I don't fix their clothing up, or straighten their hair or ask for make up or anything like that....I just want the picture to be as they are....you can't get anything more endlessly interesting than people....I want them to be really them. With the glass project, I asked them to look down the garden as though they were looking to the future (corny, I know) but I love how they all look so different, some timid, some thoughtful, some determined. It's also fascinating how we actually like to portray ourselves, how we stand, hold our heads, what we do with our hands, I just love it all, all of the people who allow me to take their picture. So basically, I'm not trying to get a specific emotion, just whichever one they have.
4) You use light really well with your portraits, and seem to only use natural light. What are some tips you suggest to people regarding lighting people?
Ooh, difficult one. I don't know that I have any, I just look for a good light, mine is always from the window, no lamps. I think it's just paying attention, the light is the most important thing so you just look for it....I like south facing rooms best but you get consistency with north facing..........sorry, can't really help with this one........it's like anything, you learn what works as you go, I can't really articulate it but I could walk through your house and tell you the best room. :)
5) What do you like about shooting film vs. Digital? What is it about medium format film that keeps you coming back?
I started with digital, and I do like it, but it's a different medium to film...to me it's cleaner, more 'realistic' but generally has less warmth and depth. I started film because I was getting frustrated with the results I was getting on the DSLR....that I couldn't achieve what I wanted. I purchased an old Yashicamat TLR from Ebay....which is where all my cameras have come from, and it suddenly all made sense, it took pictures in the way I saw them.....and that's the same reason why I will sometimes use digital e.g.: the caravan pics....I think it's just using the right tool for the job you need to do. Now I mainly stick with the Hasselblad, because I adore the slightly soft focus (soft to me anyway) and the toycams, the Diana and the Holga (whose back fell off today in the middle of the film). But I love them all, the 35mm slr has taken some of my favourite portraits......the great wall is completely hit and miss, but it's also completely perfect when it goes right. Plus film just feels like home, I have something physical to hold on to and print up in the darkroom if I like.
6) Show us a photographer or two on flickr that has influenced your work.
There are so so many that have and do all the time, even if I'm not conciously aware of it. I'll just list a few of my faves... BosseB www.flickr.com/photos/bosseb/ His portraits are some of my all time favourites....they are heartbreakingly beautiful. Rebeccamissing www.flickr.com/photos/mintyfresh/ just truly emotional, poetic, pictures.....not necessarily portraits....he could make you cry over a patch of dirt with his spectra and a few words. Mr. E. www.flickr.com/photos/mr-e/ always honest, exposed, inspirational and beautiful. Harpy www.flickr.com/photos/harpy/ she just kicks ass...I always struggle with describing her work but it somehow cuts through the crap and goes straight to the heart and mind. Aikithereska www.flickr.com/photos/thisiswhatisee/ although Therese makes beautiful pictures, it's the way she persists through all the ups and downs of trying to be creative regardless, or because of, whatever life throws up, that inspires me most. I could go on endlessly.
7) If you could spend a week somewhere in the world just doing photography where would it be?
I'd rent an old furnished farmhouse, all rambling and rundown, by the sea in Cornwall. That would make me happy.
8) Tell us something about your favorite portrait of the one's chosen for Spotlight Seven.
Well they all mean something, I love the one of Becky because I really wanted to show her how lovely she is and she does like it, I love the one of Harry, because that's so him, and James, because he doesn't let me take his picture anymore and he can be intense and a real thinker and I hope that shows through. At the moment though, it's the one of my Dad. I think this is the first one I've taken seriously of him since I've kind of known what I'm doing more....he's usually laughing and talking non stop and I find this one very moving. He hasn't said whether he likes it yet or not though.....sometimes it's disconcerting to see yourself changing and getting older.
9) What are your long term goals in regards to your photography?
Well I faff around a lot, I talk about exhibiting or getting a portfolio together even, and I haven't yet done it. My pleasure/passion/obsession comes from the thinking about pictures, having ideas and the taking of them....I don't know if there's enough of me to do the business side, the side that you need to become a 'success'. I'd like to make some money (read need) at the very least to keep me in film, ....ideally I'd like to get my pictures out on walls, make books, have the time to follow my ideas, all of that.............but I need to be able to sell myself and that's what I'm not good at. I don't want to impress anyone, just be able to carry on doing what I love.
10) Show us a photograph you wish you took on flickr.
I've just spent forever going through my favourites and there are about a million pictures I wish I'd taken. It's been interesting to see how over time my tastes have softened, both in focus and colours. I'm going to pick this one simply because I love it and I wish wish wish I'd been taking pictures when my babies were in fact babies and if I had been, then I'd like to think that this is what I'd have done.....nothing fancy, just beautifully tender...
The 10 chosen photos