|TIGER MEETS TIM by Briony Campbell|
Early in 2014, I was sent details of a forthcoming talk at PhotoForum to be given by Briony Campbell and so I looked at her website and was bowled over by her fantastic photography. She responded very positively to my initial email and began talking about shooting at our house in Brighton but dissuaded her because so many had already been done here. So, it was that on 22nd July, I travelled up to her flat in Hackney for the shoot. The lovely face of Briony welcomed me at her front door and almost immediately, I had a very good feeling about the shoot.
She made us each a delicious smoothie and toasted some muffins and we talked about the this and that for about half an hour before Briony began to get the tripod set up ready for the photographs. She had an interesting way of shooting in that she looked at the shot through the camera but she then positioned herself to the side of the camera when she pressed the shutter. Although I was looking straight at the lens and normally in those circumstances, I try to look through the lens into the eyes of the photographer, this time the photographer was connecting with me away from the camera. Just a small thing but actually quite enormous in the context of my project. But there was more. She said that, if she ended up 80% satisfied with the results from the shoot then that was really the best she could hope for and that she would be very happy with that. Well, I enjoyed our encounter so much that I wrote to her afterwards and gave it 95% as far as I was concerned. I said that the missing 5% was because, when she decided to drape the tiger blanket over me, I did wonder if it would look better if I was naked but I did not want to break the spell that had been cast as we slowly but surely crept up the scale towards her 80% mark. We also did some shots inside without the blanket and some outside on her balcony with the help of her flatmate who held the reflector. Then her boyfriend arrived and we had a coffee and I said goodbye. I hop skippity jumped down the stairs of the building thinking what a hop skippity life I was leading these days.
Briony responded to my email after the shoot saying that she had really enjoyed it too even though it seemed strange to her to be creating an image that made me part of her home rather than trying to capture the essence of me in my own home. However, she felt that I looked so good under 'Tiger' that she felt it was meant to be and this reversal of the usual scenario seemed appropriate since my project is about the experience of being photographed rather than the exercise of photographing. She had also used the shoot as part of her new project of photographing visitors to her home and I was now a member of her new 'club'.
A few days later, I received three photographs from her. Her favourite was the Tiger shot and I am very happy to go with that one although I really liked the other two. The Tiger shot has the sense of me visiting a foreign land (her flat) and the raised eyebrow says that I am king of my own little jungle in my head, in my tiger outfit, on her settee and, at the same time, the stick on the wall above my head is the shape of a "T" for Tim, Tiger Tim.
But most of all, and this is what gives me the most pleasure, this is a photograph of me by Briony Campbell, a great photographer, my new collaborator and my new friend.