The Philippines has become very important to me over the last four years. It’s now the focus of much of my life and I want to spend more time there. The winters in France are just too cold for me now.
When you visit a country for longer periods, months at a time, as I do, you can’t do quite what the holiday tourist does. It’s partly to do with budgets but also with burnout. You have to learn to chill and take it easy.
I took most of these pictures at Ethie Woods near Arbroath in Angus Scotland in 2001. Some were taken in our home in Arbroath. The camera was a Russian ‘Horizont’. this was a panoramic camera that used a swinging 28mm lens on 35mm film. The images were interesting but not really sharp. This was partly because the 28mm lens was not that sharp anyway, but also because the film had to be held in a curve so that it registered with the focal plane of the rotating lens. This was somewhat beyond the Russian technology of the day and since the lens could not be stopped down to reduce the consequences of this, the images suffered.
I sold the camera after a short while, but looking back, the somewhat soft-focus effect was really attractive in its own right.
I am not ashamed to say that I love the Philippines. Nowhere else that I have ever visited manages to capture so much of humanity’s amazing variety. It’s an incredible place and I am so lucky to have found it. This is a selection of pictures from that trip. I’ll let them speak for themselves.
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I photographed Kirsten as a part of the Gaia series, taken in 2009
The location was The PlashMill, in Friockheim, Scotland, where I then lived. It was August, and quite warm. I ended up standing in the lade — the stream you can see — in order to get better pictures. This seemed to amuse everyone greatly. Kirsten brought a chaperone — something I encourage strongly — who photographed me at work.
If you’re photographing the nude, there are two things you should do. The first is to obtain a signed Model Release form. This is not a legal requirement in the UK but it is in the the US and you will have no end of problems trying to sell work to that territory without one.
The second is the chaperone. You will be working with a young woman who will be in a vulnerable position since, after all, nude photography usually takes place in private. The presence of the chaperone will set the model at ease, especially if she is not a professional model (Kirsten was a student.)
The chaperone performs another, crucial role, however. She protects the photographer against accusation of improper behaviour — accusations which in the current climate could have very serious consequences. Also useful for making cups of tea and photographing the photographer!
These images were made using an MPP MK IV 5×4 technical camera with 150mm Schneider and a Bronica ETRS. Film stock was Ilford and Kodak.
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