Not long ago, I talked about meeting someone for the first time. The most interesting element of our introduction was solely to produce a photograph. That was the original idea anyway, part of a project involving 50 photographers to take a portrait of a writer from the Traverse Theatre’s 50th Anniversary new writing scheme. Since our appointment by Marc and Alex at Writer Pictures, me and Tara, have moved from strangers, to collaborators, to friends. We took to the project straight off the blocks and a few months later, after the exchange of a lot of very strong and very amusing ideas, we finished our assignment.
We didn’t make work easy for ourselves though as we settled on an idea that wasn’t straightforward or conventional. On top of that, Tara lives in Dublin so the chances to meet up and thrash out suggestions were thin on the ground. Still, it made her brief and busy trips incredibly productive, and we moved forward in sync with our ideas. I love her writing, and feel so lucky that it is threaded with subtle visual cues. The chance to meet in a collaboration is so important to me, on one visit I risked passing on my glandular fever for the chance for a brief, feverish, catch-up.
Me and Tara’s portrait will be exhibited at the Traverse on the 21st of October along with the 49 other portraits by a photographic roster that spans the UK. To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement. But I am excited about sharing the pride of the finished work with another person, someone equally as excited.
The house lights have come up on the Traverse Theatre’s first full production of 2013, which finished a sensational run last weekend. But I couldn’t be happier its over.
Quiz Show is a rare double-edge sword for a photographer. At one end, it is decidedly visually brilliant. It abounds in colour, fun and dynamism that kept me curious and on my toes. A sumptuously gaudy set with screens, monitors and teleprompters of a dated TV studio that provided additional layers of perspective to play with. The show has a careful veneer that conceals a heavy hitting commentary which, as it gradually lifts away, made me readjust my approach. The action is frantic and the images pay it full justice.
But therein is the double edge. The play undergoes such a transformation and such unexpected action emerges, that to even hint at the violence and the darkness contained would ruin the reveal for the audiences over the run. Having seen the very first performance of the show, I wouldn’t trade any knowledge of the plot for the shocks in store. So I have sat on these beautiful photos for the last 3 weeks! When you produce something you love, its hard not to shout about it.
Tara is a writer, and as I have learned, many other things. The learning is at the very beginning though, and it is a two way exchange. Tara has been selected by the Traverse Theatre, off the strength of her script Tourists, to be one of their 50 writers for their 50th Year.
This is a great programme, both in scale and in promise. And like all great things, it needs to be properly documented. Enter the foresight of the staff at Writer Pictures, who have cleverly elected 50 photographers with which to partner each writer. A personal chronicler for a time that is pivotal in their career. Tara is my writer and last weekend, we met for the first time.
A difficult balance to strike, when two people first meet. Thankfully for us, we both recognise a blank canvas and the opportunity to create something. And thankfully for us, we met for a meal in The Shore, where no wrong can be done! Talking without a script, about flats, about painting, about forgetting, big changes,sisters and brothers, style, about Ireland, a very rounded image of Tara emerged as a writer, worker, person. Someone unique for a unique project. Creating can be a solitary process, and I am very much looking forward to sharing it with someone not only with a different perspective, but a separate medium to express it.
I will produce a portrait of Tara over the course of this partnership for exhibition in the Traverse during August.
The first production of the year from the Traverse Theatre will be opening this week as a work in progress.
Me and the Traverse worked together on the poster before Christmas to tease Andy Greig’s visually rich and euphonic poetry into a working image. I always work off a script for visuals, but this time I had to measure my reading. Written as a poem, the prose crashes like waves, heavy and atmospheric of Orkney. Each line was so nuanced and connotative I kept finding myself re-reading passages just for pleasure.
We took the shoot to my own local The King’s Wark, in Edinburgh’s traditional Shore, for a genuine seafarer’s vintage. No strangers to Leith, Tam and Lewis knew the venue and charmed coffee out of the staff for us to warm up with.
Since the temperature hasn’t changed a great deal since December, I am looking forward to cosying up to the show and seeing how it has developed from two glasses of whisky and some old maps.
All eyes on deck!
At one fell swoop, here are my images from the recent and brilliant theatre productions I have had the pleasure of working on over the last month. All Scottish and all highly contemporary in their own ways.
First up, Ka-boing, is Random Accomplice’s The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, which just finished its tour in Edinburgh’s Traverse a week back. Take a gander at their excellent website and admire Johnny McKnight’s comic book flair!
And for my inner teenager, at my inner back of the bus:
I was invited to Perth to shoot Horsecross Theatre’s production of The Odd Couple last month. A rewritten female version of the classic 60’s play and film. Sensation overload: with a really sumptuously 80’s set, wardrobe and palette that I literally didn’t know where to look! On top of everything the downtown NY accents and antics had me rightly tickled.
The Traverse during August. An institution in its prime.
Dark and underground, with its mellow, modern climate. Tucked underneath all the commotion like an emergency shelter. Like some patient sentinel, offering cool sanctuary to the martyrs of this frantic month. A dark place to close your eyes and open your brain.
From their fringe program this month, it is remains a steeple of contemporary theatre in Scotland. But much more so during August. Subterranean refuge for many, second home to some (myself included). It acts an unlikely Oasis where artists and audiences from every tier come to draw water. It is the final destination for many after a full day of shows, a place with its own gravity, where sanity always remains. A place you will probably find me seeing out the next few weeks.
Here are some of the performances from this month’s program
|Bravo, Figaro – Mark Thomas|
|Beats – Kieran Hurley|
|Angels – Iain Robertson|
|Mess – Caroline Horton|
|All That is Wrong – Koba Ryckewaert|
|Morning – Simon Stephens|
|Born to Run – Shauna MacDonald|
So this is where we are. One helluva round trip coming up!
Just back in Scotland after a week of diamond weather and amazing shooting in Kohler, Wisconsin, working alongside Hamish Campbell and the Kohler team on some new campaign imagery for The American Club Resort. Just seen the weather report in Edinburgh for the rest of the week – Take me back now!
Back on the ground, and still a little jelly legged, here is a run down of my work over the last few weeks.
I was invited to cover the Write Here Festival at the Traverse Theatre last month, a series of workshops and events that support script development in theatre writing. Among the discussions and round-table activities I was also offered a privileged role in the rehearsal of Tim Price’s Demos (complete with gloves and scarf) that wrapped up the festival.
I have recently started working with the multitalented Scottish Chamber Orchestra who asked me to produce some new images for the SCO Chorus.
I was also invited to the Usher Hall to capture the performance and flower presentation of Nicola Benedetti with the SCO for their performance of The Four Seasons.
Events Consultants Scotland asked me along to get busy behind the scenes at the annual dinner of the Scottish Friendly Assurance at The Glasgow Central Hotel. What I thought was set to be sophisticated, calm black tie evening, soon became a full blown party thanks to Incognito Artists. Table dancing, bouquet swinging and chorus chanting all before desert.