Third Time Lucky

......Hello....remember us? We hope so, because we've not forgotten you...promise.

For those who have been with us from the start, you'll know most of this, but in October 2014 we set off on this journey to try to create a truly unique roll of film. A roll of twelve shots, taken by twelve different photographs across four different countries all shot on a Hasselblad.....I'll pause for a second while you contemplate that...

"Is that even possible?"...."Will the roll survive the various x-ray scans?"....."Will the process work?"

Let's just think about the first question for now...Is it possible? Well, we believe it is. We never said it would be easy, we never said it would be a walk in the park, but we truly believe we can do this.....even after some serious setbacks that we've experienced. 

Setback number one - The double exposure

Shoot, then wind....that's easy..ok, let's start again. Luckily we spotted that one early on

 

Setback number two - The mystery

What happened to the second roll then? We've spent some time trying to figure this out to be honest and also making some tough decisions on what to do next. The truth is, that after shot six, the roll was wound on as per process and it just kept winding, and winding, and winding...until it reached the end....six shots on a roll, not twelve - that's not right.


So, what do we do next? Shoot another six shots on another roll? That's the easy option right? We didn't sign up to easy though did we. So, the reality is, we're starting again.....Third time lucky.

 

"But what about the six shots you did take, how did they turn out?"

Good question...there's so many positives and negatives to the answer. Most turned out amazing, which makes it a bigger shame that we couldn't complete the roll.

But aside from the winding issue, we also had a light leak issue.

The strange thing about this is that the same shot was instantly taken on an alternate back, without issue.

Was this damaged in transport maybe? The shots after seemed fine so this would suggest not. Is it just a faulty back? Possibly, which is why we'll be running some more tests before we start again.

 

 

So, what next?

Some things have changed during this project. One person has moved, so we'll now shoot in UK, Norway and U.S, which should help us with some of the potential transit issues. We've also tried to set ourselves a stricter target on taking the shot and trying to complete this in three weeks of receiving the back. Assuming the weather holds out, which may be a challenge in the UK of late, we believe we can achieve this. 

What hasn't changed is the enthusiasm in the team. We're all really eager to kick this project off again, and as soon as the tests have been done and the weather shows some sign of holding, we'll do it....we really will.

2016 will be the year of Twelve.

 

 

həʊm / noun

Home

noun: home; plural noun: homes

The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

 

Home is a powerful word, it provides us shelter, warmth, memories, love. With it you are safe and secure, without it your life is perilous, at the mercy of the elements.

Home is the Twelve project theme, and my first trail of thought was obviously my house, my family, my town. This however is not doing justice to the true international meaning of “Home” . In 1962 Sir Edward Coke said “A man’s house is his castle and fortress and each man’s home is his safest refuge.”.

Our theme has powerful undertones steeped in historical context. The origin of the word home is likely to be of Germanic origin, Old Frisian hem "home, village," Old Norse heimr "residence, world. Years ago when you lived and died where you were born and travel was restricted, your home was your world. My home, my bricks and mortar are modest. It is my castle, to a starving refugee it is a palace, to a billionaire, a shed. In Great Britain we are privileged to have a wealth of historical architecture, our houses could be deemed museum worthy in some countries.

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They have to adapt as we do as well.... We now need cables, more rooms, bigger windows, sliding doors, more space. It's almost upsetting to see the amount of effort going into building these days. Housing estates with row after row of identical houses made from plasterboard. As an Island of 229,848 km² with a population of 64 million we are running out of room. The way that we provide people's castles has to change, we literally live on top of each other. Structural Engineers have exhausted safe ways to fill our footprint so now they are going up. Cities are being pulled from the ground by crane after crane to stack us like commodities. This is not meant to be a pro green article or anti modernism blog piece. This is the level of thought I went through prior to taking my shot when given the theme “home”.

We have a beautiful burnt down Pier in my city of Brighton, I could have easily taken a shot of that and the combo of Hasselblad, Kodak and golden light would have given me a lovely photograph. A lovely photograph if I wanted a postcard. I didn’t. I actively discourage myself from shooting postcard shots if I can help it. I get suckered in occasionally but for me there is no intrigue in producing something someone has shot a millions of times before. My real passion is shooting at night, it came from having a baby and little free time. The only time I found I had to indulge in photography was at night so thats what I did. You really do test your skill and your passion when you go out into the cold winters night and walk out into the countryside. Darkness doesn’t phase me but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been spooked a couple of times whilst waiting for a shot. For me a night shot gives me atmosphere but it also gives me even more manual control for a shot. If I take a photo in the daytime I am limited to how far the sun, film and lens will allow me to go. Nightfall gives me another dimension to my photography. I’m a completely self taught photographer and having a theme to shoot which wasn’t my idea is somewhat strange. I hope what I have taken expresses in a simple way, home, and has a style which can be considered my own.

Home is where the Hasselblad is

When I heard that the theme for the inaugural Twelve Photographers project was to be ‘Home’ I immediately had an idea in mind.

Home is important to me – I come from a small family and have lived in less than a handful of houses throughout my life. Until I was about 18 I hadn’t left the UK – but since meeting the lady who became my wife I’ve travelled quite a lot because she’s from the US and that’s taken us over the pond a good few times plus other places related to her life and family.

I spent a lot of my childhood at home, purely because my parents worked from their house. So home for a lot of my life has not just been a place to live but also a place of work and activity.

So it seemed a natural choice for me to capture an image that was literally to do with my home.

But then I started to dig a little deeper into what home might mean to others and came up with lots of ideas in my head about how I could represent this concept. It could be a scene from the area I live in – I adore the coastline and live fairly near to it. I live overlooking the countryside – I love taking pictures of landscapes with its changing weather and light. Home could be a feeling; a place you feel most comfortable in your mind – so perhaps the image could be a depiction of a person, an activity, a feeling of where I belong.

I love seeing how other people live, their environment, the things that surround them where they feel most comfortable, or indeed where and how they have to live because of the way their lives are.

So there were so many possibilities for my image of ‘home’.  But when it came down to setting up and taking that single shot to represent what it means for me, I was driven by what felt just right and comfortable rather than what might be considered more metaphorical or elaborate.

One thing leads to another

There’s something more to photography for me than just the technicalities of image making. The story is fundamental...without it, there is no meaning, no substance and no connection.

I’m Andrew Areoff, one of the twelve....and this is my story. 

About nine years ago I went on a photographic holiday to the Isles of Scilly. Putting aside the photographic opportunities, this crop of islands about 30 miles off the Cornish coast, out in the Atlantic ocean are just wonderful and perhaps as relaxed as you can find in the UK. But for the photography, they are just amazing; wonderful rugged coastlines and a way of life that seems unimaginable back on the mainland. I ended up making some photography friends, some I have stayed in touch with. One, a lady called Lindsey Stock – a gifted floral photographer and a wonderfully opinionated character. 

Some months after the Isles of Scilly trip Lindsey and I went on a trip to RHS Wisley to photograph plants. Sunrise brought a sodden wet day, I suggested we reschedule for another day. Lindsey said “no, let’s go. Plants look better in the damp weather.” So I bowed to her superior knowledge and experience. We had a great day in the end a learned a lot about how to photograph plants.

This was back in the day when I was shooting with film the first time round – Fuji Velvia positive film to be precise. This film produced saturated colours, a look that’s out of vogue theses days – it would be interesting to shoot plants again using film stocks that are popular right now and compare the difference. I haven’t done so, but more on the possible reasons why in a bit.

I was on my way to a funeral one day, the husband of my next-door neighbour. While I was driving to the funeral I received a call from Lindsey’s mother. She phoned me to tell me the sad news that Lindsey had died in her sleep; she had epilepsy and had a fit in her sleep. It was totally unexpected to me as I didn’t know she suffered from epilepsy and knew little about the condition. And the sad irony of receiving such news while on the way to a funeral!

I was invited to Lindsey’s funeral – I attended the service along with the bunch of photography friends who all met on the Isles of Scilly trip.

A few weeks later Lindsey’s mother phoned me to ask if I’d be interested in buying Lindsey’s photography equipment. I went to look at what she had and immediately bought the Hasselblad along with several lens and film backs. It’s this equipment that I’m shooting with on Twelve Photographers and is a wonderful piece of kit – a prominent classic camera shop in London complemented me on the brilliant condition of the camera and lenses when I took them in to be serviced a while back.

The strange thing is that I hardly used Lindsey’s Hasselblad camera kit. When I bought it I ran a couple of rolls of film through it, but then I left it in a case for several years. 

Fast forward to last year when I met Dan Rubin , renowned film and smartphone photographer and designer. Amongst other things, we chatted about film photography and the fact I had a Hasselblad as does he (along with his 40 odd other cameras!). He fired up up my enthusiasm for film photography and suggested I take the Hasselblad to Florida with me on my trip there – he hails from Florida himself. I offered my excuses about not wanting to damage the camera on a trans-Atlantic trip on which he poured scorn and told me to” “just take it and shoot some rolls.”

I took his advice and broke the several year spell that was hovering over Lindsey’s Hasselblad and preventing me from just using it. I shot several rolls in the superb light of Florida and the results were astonishing, particularly as I was rusty with using this film format.

When I got back from my trip to the Sunshine State I shared some of my pictures on Twitter with the hashtags #hasselblad and #filmisnotdead. Within minutes I started to get connected with other Hasselblad and film photographers.

One thing lead to another and here I am, one of twelve on this project, paying homage to the classic Hasselblad 503 series camera, film as a resurrected photographic medium, and for me, Lindsey Stock who I miss but remember fondly through using her camera, and Dan Rubin who inspired me to pull my finger out and “just shoot”.

Nobody's perfect

We have a confession......we made a mistake. 

I was out with friends a few months ago watching a football game and got talking about the project....the concept, the photographers and also the process of how this was possible. As written previously, this project is only possible due to the modularity of the Hasselblad. But there are still rules......there's still a process that needs to be followed....and that's where I failed...I forgot to define the process.

Shoot, then wind, then ship to the next person. (As simply written by Andrew Areoff in his recent post)

Should have been easy...it's the basics, right? After the discussion in the pub I suddenly doubted myself, the process.....so I checked. What actually happened was shoot, ship, clip and shoot. Something missing though, something pretty fundamental for a project like this......Wind. 

I was initially disappointed, we'd been making really good progress with the project in terms of support. This seemed liked a set back, halted the momentum, but actually we were lucky, fortunate to catch it so early. This could have happened later in the roll, or worse still, never picked up until the very end. The reality was that not too much damage had happened as only two shots had been taken, so we simply started again.  

But hang on a minute, rules are more like guidelines right? As long as you understand them, you can choose to use them, or not....stick to them, or bend them. When this project started out, it was really about can it be done, could this be achieved without any issues. Well, we faced one, dealt with it and moved on. Adapt...it's critical. I'm sure we'll face more, and I'm confident we'll overcome them....like I said, adapt. 

So what happened to the first shot then? Well, you've probably figured out we had a double exposure.....rules, there to be broken right? Whilst we didn't want to continue with this roll, we did want to develop it, see how it turned out.....truth is, pretty good.

So here it is, a fusion of Norway and Norfolk, the first shot to come out of the twelve project. 

 

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