hohohoooo that's right ladies and gents I was fortunate enough to be offered to shoot a sheet of 5x4 when I recently took a new assistant on. Ollie Whitehead has joined the Pannack squad and what better way to start him off than to lugg him along to meet Toni for my project Harmless.
I knew that if he could make her feel at ease it would work out. This would be particularly challenging for him as Toni has had several extreme bad experiences with men in her past that have then provoked her to self harm. He generously hauled the 5x4 along and during the shoot I asked if we could whip it out for our last shot as Mr 'Sun' lazily bailed early doors as always at the moment. I've never shot large format and always wanted to. It goes without saying it will take a bit of practice but the thrill was one that has definitely wettend the appetite.
Toni has self harmed for several years and after a cuppa her guard dropped and she really did vent her heart out. Revealing a variety of ways she has induced self harm over the years. From inserting paper clips into her skin to setting alight her torso and legs, she really has inflicted severe physical damage to her body. But my intention is not to just display the results of this self punishment but hint as to the individuals story and connect with my subject. Unfortunately this image now appears too obvious despite the concept actually being far more complex. However with pleasure often comes sacrifice, and with this instance a mistake. You see, my idea was actually to have two shadows behind Toni. One from her and one from Ollie. She discussed having two sides to her disorder. The self harm became her friend as well as her enemy and I thought shadows and reflections may be a good way to communicate this.
However when caught up in the technical obligations of large format Ollie and I oversaw the fact that him removing the dark slide whilst I pressed the shutter resulted in an absent shadow... Doh!
I have chosen to keep the negs dirty as I think the scratched and dust echo a slight aggression and imperfection. I don't mean too be arty but I really like these little marks and 'scars' and think they suit the project well.
The experience was still one of fun, exploration and initiation... I look forward to exploring it more, when it feels right... x