When it comes to photography, the more I shoot, the more I understand that much of my work is not about photography. It’s actually about problem solving. How do I help this client or business present themselves in the way they would like? How do I light a subject in a way that will create the right mood? How do I get a bathtub into the middle of a derelict building?
Recently I had the opportunity to create some ensemble portraits for the Valencia Baryton Project. It’s a local group of world class musicians, and being married to one of them, creates the ideal opportunity for me to experiment with new ideas. They pretty much leave it up to me and let my imagination run away with itself - perfect for any creative person! So the brief they gave me was to depict them in some way that we could add extra players for future concerts (it’s more of a collective with several interchangeable musicians). That immediately said to me ‘composite’ so that I could take photos of the musicians separately and swap them onto a background image creating different combinations of the same image. So I set up a small studio in my house (I needed more space than my regular studio has to replicate the equivalent distance in the background) to photograph each musician separately.
The next question was where should the background be taken? I’ve wanted to do a shoot for years in Valencia’s old Silk Exchange, however, it being a UNESCO World Heritage site they don’t allow camera tripods, which is necessary to take a photo at a longish exposure. But they will allow pushchairs! So I put my thinking cap on and brought along a willing helper (my 2 year old) and his stroller. I used my trusty gorilla pod to attach the camera to the back of the tripod and set about photographing various backgrounds that I might use. It was largely successful, although my toddler had his own ideas about creative direction ;)