What I’ve been up to lately - More Than Words Sound Booth | Facebook
It’s been a crazy-busy week, but I feel like every time I’ve drawn breath, I’ve learned a hundred things, about my photography, about myself, about everything!
I’m one of 5 photography students who volunteered to take part in a project for BBC Radio 4. A lot of the Radio 4 programmes are made in Bristol, and on 16th-18th March, they’re holding a festival in the city - More Than Words - which will be a whole range of free events, from their live programmes being recorded here, to comedy, poetry, drama, workshops, all kinds of things. To promote the festival, they asked my tutor Shawn to find some volunteers, and take photos of people listening to things in the city. Polly Weston, who’s running the project for the BBC, had a specific vision in mind. She had 4 sets of earphone covers knitted in the colours of the festival logo, and she wanted black and white photos, with the earphones cut out in colour. Originally she wanted the colours to relate to specific emotions sound-clips are supposed to represent - happy, sad, scary, peaceful - but it hasn’t turned out exactly like that, and we’ve been aiming for reactions.
So we’ve been taking a little studio set-up around different sites in Bristol, to get a range of people and places. Monday we were at uni (and the great thing about art students is that because people know at some stage they’ll want people to get involved with their projects, lots of them are likely to say yes to helping other people!) then Monday night, we went to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School; Tuesday we were in Asda in Bedminster; and Thursday we went to Bristol Zoo. In between times, we’ve been editing like crazy - people have been laughing when all 5 of us were in the digital darkroom, taking up 2 rows, all working on cut-outs - like a little sweat-shop!
The first day, we took a Metz flash (battery operated, can be handheld, but we set it up on a tripod firing through a white umbrella), but it was really hard. At first it fired every time we needed it to, but the battery runs down really fast, so pretty soon it was missing 1 shot in 5, then 3, then 2 in 5, then 2 in 3, which was so frustrating, especially when we were looking for the perfect reactions, and missing them. So we swapped to the location lighting kit - a studio lamp, with a long extension lead. We took out a frame and roll of backing paper for the backdrop, a Radio 4 banner….. and us!
The thing I’ve remembered about myself is that I’m actually really good at getting people to agree to do things. That sounds like bragging, but I love it, and people say yes to me. I’ve been wondering why, and I think it’s because I get into a performing space, completely in the moment, and I am friendly and open, and don’t apply too much pressure. I worry, though, that while I’m good at getting people to say yes to having their photos taken, I’m probably less good at taking their photos - it’s a different energy, from projecting outwards for people, to a more focused, contained feeling of just me and the subject, for taking the pics. But then again, it could also be that I’m just doing my usual self-criticism, and I’m fine!
People have been so lovely, and we’ve worked together as a nice team. The editing has taken hours & hours (I always forget, before a project, and think the shooting is the hardest/longest part!) but we’ve motored through it. We’ve got two or three more shoots next week, and we’re done!
I know, I know, this is really long - but if you’re still reading, have a look at the More Than Words Facebook page, and if you like it, “like” it! And please do look at the gallery of photos. They’re not all mine, but some of these I took, and some I edited, and I think I was involved somehow (getting the person, taking the pic, managing the sounds, getting consent forms signed) with every single one. It’s been exhausting, but SO stimulating, one of those things where everything is worth it, and I have a huge smile on my face!