Earlier this year I had a ‘Eureka!’ moment of my own and decided to put together a series of portraits covering the creative ‘movers and shakers’ of Cardiff city. Some many conversations later and I’ve now met some amazing people and have the pleasure of collaborating with one of them on what has turned out to be a BIG exciting piece of work. Spike Dennis (my fellow collaborator) and I are now contacting those nominees who have been picked to be part of the inaugural year of ProjectCardiff. The next stage will be to make portraits with them during August and part of September and then in October we hang the first show in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.
The following post appeared on the Project’s blog recently and outlines my thoughts on how I’ll undertake the making of this series:
Fifty portraits… plus one
Shooting fifty portraits (plus one) is no small undertaking. Shooting fifty designers, illustrators, painters, musicians, photographers, curators and educators in a month is, perhaps, insane.
However, when an idea scares the hell out of you it’s a good sign that you should most likely forge ahead with it. And that, dear reader is how Project Cardiff came about.
How does a photographer approach such a shoot? How does a photographer make portraits of a disparate group of individuals so that as a final exhibition there is a common theme?
In making portraits of all these incredible people I am conscious of the need to produce a body of work that delivers a coherent message of creativity. The most interesting piece of this jigsaw that is portrait photography is the gap: the gap between the photographer and sitter where the viewer fits in. How does a portrait make the viewer react? This is where the real power of a portrait is revealed.
I want to introduce an element of movement to the portraits. I see these people as a dynamic group, a positive force that creates and destroys and creates again, that keeps moving and morphing and making networks, collaborations, tangents and fractals of thought and action. A glimpse of movement, a suggestion of animation, of spirit – these are qualities I want to capture and present to the viewer.
Without wanting to sound clichéd , today’s creatives are at the cutting edge of ‘creation’; they are more advanced in thought and action by dint of their position in space and time than any other beings. What does this mean in the context of a project like this? It means that to do them justice in making a portrait of them, it must be also innovative and fresh and vibrant.
I will be shooting digitally but want to produce an analogue ‘look’ and ‘feel’ in the final pieces. Importantly too, the portraits we make will not be framed behind glass: I want there to be as much of a connection between the audience and the sitter as possible.
The face of each subject is very important, more so than the rest of the body for me, in the context. These are thinkers and doers and copious ideas flow from them. Yes, they produce work with their hands and bodies. But, were it not for the spark behind the eyes, the firing synapses, the ‘eureka’ moment that they surely experience on a regular basis they would not be at the top of their chosen field. They would not be pushing the boundaries in a vibrant, dynamic space such as this, our young city. They would not be the movers and shakers, recent or long-standing that are making such valid contributions to the cultural & creative landscape of Cardiff. It is through the eyes and facial expressions that we garner much split-second, ‘instinctive’ information and so it is here that we will concentrate the viewers’ attention.