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Project Portrait: Day 85

Day 85 of Project Portrait. This one is a bit of a special day for me. I’ve been reading a lot about old photo techniques and how they generated these incredible looks and feels, but were abandoned for their complexity and use of dangerous chemicals like cyanide and mercury. One such technique is wet plate collodion. Photos taken via this process were known for the incredible levels of detail they created and the amazing colour palette that no other photographic process seemed to be able to recreate. Well, I’ve been quietly obsessed with these images and so I set out to try and create one myself, and this is it. Now, I have to disclose I couldn’t find the right chemicals and or the space to do it for real, so I’ve spent hours trying to learn how to do it in Photoshop. Some might say it’s cheating but for me the act of learning techniques that would previously be unavailable to me are all part of this project I embarked upon months ago. So I took a portrait I took of the lovely Matt Verity and turned it into a wet plate collodion version. It looks like he’s been painted in silver. I hope y’all like it as much as I did creating it.

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Project Portrait: Day 84

Day 83 of Protect Portrait. Next up we have Marcel Kalveram, a software developer who works at Hanno with Matthew Lenzi and Laïla von Alvensleben. Marcel has spent a few days at The Hatch using one of our spare desks. When I mentioned to him the idea of taking his picture I immediately thought about how transient communal workspaces can be. At The Hatch there have been dozens of people who have come and go, using a desk for a day and then disappearing. Marcel is based in Valencia and I imagine this might be the only time I meet him. For this portrait I wanted to try and convey a sense of how transient London can be sometimes. So I got Marcel to walk past the lens, to suggest two people passing without really knowing one another. It’s a feeling you get dozens of times living in a big city. The grey tones are well, if you’ve ever spent any time in London that colour is everywhere.

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Project Portrait: Day 83

Day 82 of Project Portrait. Next up we have the awesome Grace Probyn (the only Grace Probyn on Facebook, so I’ve been told). Grace has just started working with Nana Wereko-Brobby at Social Concierge. The first thing Grace said to me when we went to shoot this photo at The Hatch was, “I absolute hate having my photo taken.” But of all the people who have said that to me (which is most) the camera seemed to love taking pictures of Grace. When I wasn’t trying to get her to ‘squinch’ – a weird halfway house between squinting and not – she had this amazingly deep gaze that just jumps out of the photo as I hope you can see below. She also told me this incredible story about how she was an au pair to a mob family in Chicago which immediately got me thinking of British nanny stereotypes and this idea of us Brits (can you believe it eh?) being the epitome of class of sophistication (at least in some American circles). I wanted to try and bring out that idea of Grace being the quintessential child carer in the eyes of her former employers. A hark bark to the ideas of good manners and excellent elocution. This photo is a nod to those more proper times via the side profile and pale, gentle lighting.

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Project Portrait: Day 82

Day 82 of Project Portrait. Next up we have Tom Nurse, an editorial UX designer at the BBC. Same as Emily Mags. I managed to grab Tom on his lunch break outside the Beeb’s new broadcasting house. If you look carefully at the wall behind, the black holes are actually outlines of sea shells that were in the original rock where the stone was mined. ANYWAY, I haven’t had much chance to speak with Tom, but what I do know of him is that he’s a bit of a genius when it comes to all things UX and he’s always on hand to help out anyone on his team if there’s a problem that needs fixing. Given that, this photo is my attempt to gently reflect that.