Tuesday, 1 November 2011

PUMPKINHEAD by Jill Jennings

PUMPKINHEAD by Jill Jennings

I am not in the habit of reading YOU magazine so I must have picked it up somewhere like the doctor's waiting room but it was very lucky that I did because in there was a photograph by a photographer called Jill Jennings. I looked up her website and I liked her work a lot (there is a great portrait of George Best on her site - check it out) and so I wrote to her asking if she would partake in my project and she said yes. It is so nice when people say yes.

We corresponded through the summer of 2011 and eventually I arranged to stay with my cousin near Manchester and combined this with a stop off at Stockport where Jill lives on 1st November 2011. Normally, I try to meet the photographer before the shoot so that we get to know each other. It helps a lot during the subsequent shoot if we have got to know each other previously but in Jill's case this wasn't a problem at all because we got on very well right from the start. She provided me with lunch and, whilst we were eating, she explained what she had in mind. First of all, as it was Halloween and, inspired by various ''props'' about her house (e.g.her son's recently carved pumpkin lamps) and having been to the Magritte exhibition at Tate Liverpool, she had the idea to place me outside in the local environment and photograph me with a pumpkinhead of my own. The second idea was to incorporate my head into a still life which she would shoot in her house and indeed the temporary studio had already been set up.

So, first we toddled off to the local park but, whereas up until then, it had been a bright and sunny, it now started to pour with rain. However, it gave us time to chat a bit more and reflect on what we were going to do and where we were going to do it and, eventually, the showers stopped and we got started. Jill had brought the pumpkin with her and photographed  both me and it in such a way that it appeared that I had a pumpkin head both lit  and unlit. She showed me some of the shots on the back  of the camera and they looked really very interesting. After about an hour in the park, we returned to her house and the still life which took quite a while to set up. Often in these circumstances, the photographer apologises for the time it is taking but I don't mind at all; I find the whole process endlessly fascinating.  I think it is because I would love to be a photographer myself but I just do not have in me (that is, the technical knowledge, the patience, the desire to learn, the knack etc) and so it is great to see an expert do it all on my behalf without me having any responsibility for the execution of the photography. It is almost as if I am taking self portraits but using someone to do the camera work for me but not really because, in most cases, the original idea for the shoot has been conceived by the photographer, not me.

Anyway, back to Jill and the still life. I really enjoyed doing this partly because I had more to do than just stand or sit in front of the camera and also because I was intrigued by how it would all turn out. I filmed this shot and I hope to add this to this posting at some stage.

I enjoyed meeting and working with Jill so much. She is a very sensitive person and very kind. That was apparent the moment I met for the first time when she collected me from Stockport station. Her face is clear and open and so it was easy to see. She is also an incredibly talented artist as was exemplified by the images she sent to me subsequently. I found it so difficult to choose between the two and kept changing my mind but, in the end, I settled for the pumpkin, although.......

Link to Website: www.jilljennings.com

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