I recently had the pleasure of being commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to make portraits of the 8 recipients of the 2016 *Awards for Artists* one of the world's largest arts prizes, now celebrating its 22nd year. Shooting on locations across England, Scotland and Sweden, I had a lovely glimpse into the creative spaces the artists and composers reside in.
One of the award winners for 2016 is Rachel Reupke, a fine filmmaker who explores the complexities of interpersonal communication. Her acid sharp observations can be found in this snipped from her glorious 'Letter of Complaint'. More information here.
I went to her studio - a lovely little room that used to function as a taxi cab office in Hackney, London. One of the set-ups I wanted was a simple, clean head and shoulders shot which gave the impression of natural daylight only. Using the window light as the main light, I added in just enough soft box light to fill out the shadows a tad and punch a little contrast into the frame. I fired a few frames and moved on to a different set-up.
Once reviewing the shots later on a large screen, I was stopped in my tracks by a fluke of flash / blink timing. To keep the portrait as 'non flash' looking as possible I dragged the shutter down to 1/6th second and asked Rachel to be particularly still. She was still as still could be, however she had clearly blinked just as the camera / flash fired. The result is this extraordinary ghosting effect, with everything pin sharp bar her eyelid movement.
Rachel and her twin presence were a joy to work with. No letter of complaint.