Toward the beginning of the year I had lunch with my friend Hilary Wardaugh, an accomplished photographer around Canberra, and she described a project she was putting together. Hilary explained that she had a Nikon FM-2 manual film camera with a 50mm f/1.8 lens laying around and was planning to load a film into it, compile a list of photographers and pass the camera to each photographer and ask each one to take a picture. Once the picture has been taken, it became the photographer’s responsibility to contact the next person on the list and arrange to get the camera to them. At the end of this process, about 3 months, Hilary will get the film developed and scanned. Each photographer will their digital negative and can process it as though preparing a print in the darkroom … that is curves and levels and filter colours but no pixel based PhotoShop edits et al. The processed negative will be passed back to Hilary who will then arrange printing of the image for the purposes of exhibition. Two shows are currently lined up for the prints, one local (at the Huw Davies Gallery in Manuka) and one in Sydney (as part of the Head On Photo Festival).

The camera travels in a box containing the list of photographers, a cable release and a book in which the photographer is encouraged to write a short piece about their picture. The project is called The One Project.

So far so good… the only stipulation was that our picture had to be a portrait!

No pressure… it’s only a single frame… I mean it’s not like the other twenty-odd photographers are all accomplished photographers (they are!) and will be doing their very best as well… reading through the book I smiled when I saw that everyone else was obsessed with light, exposure and focus 😉

I wanted my portrait to be of my artistic collaborator Marina. I have photographed Marina extensively over the past two years and together we came up with the idea that often you only have an impression of someone through the images you see of them. So I put together a grid of photos I have taken of Marina and projected them digitally across her face and arms and splashed across a dark background the pictures resemble stained glass. I set my digital camera to emulate the manual settings of the FM-2 and to act as a light meter for correct exposure. The effect is one of an essentially dark shadowy image with bright pictures shaping contours but … visible upon closer inspection … you see Marina illuminated and looking out from the shadows. It looks great.

Then it was swap the camera over on the tripod, recompose and recheck the settings (and recheck them again!) … I re-posed Marina and got the composition right and while she was looking perfect I felt it was right pressed the shutter release … pa-tchang! Done! In my excitement however I had failed to warn Marina I was about to take the picture and she thinks she may have blinked but can’t recall where the blink may have been in relation to the exposure. I’m sure it’ll be fine! I do feel like a goose though! My main concern is that given the dark nature of the photograph (light-wise not emotionally-wise!) and the different response of the film to shadow and highlight my contribution to the project may in fact just turn out to be a black frame! But then that’s the risk you take in trying something less safe I guess 🙂

The Box containing the camera and artists notebook
The Box containing the camera and artists notebook


The photos I took with the digital body look great and I would include them in this post but I don’t want to publish anything until I see how the film version came out which won’t be until November. I’ll do a contrast and compare then as a separate post 🙂

But I would like to thank both Hilary and Marina. Marina firstly for being my muse and sharing her art, ideas and vision so freely with me … my world simply wouldn’t be the same without her in it. And Hilary for coming up with the idea of The One Project and making it happen, for the necessary artistic angst and discipline (well OK maybe I didn’t take home all of the discipline lesson) this project inspired in me.

%d bloggers like this: