This adventure with composition, exploring how we relate to our bodies and each other, started quite by accident – the paws of our cat inspired me as she walked across a glass tabletop. I had been keen to start work on a new series of nudes, but wasn’t sure where to begin.
As is often the way with limitations we place upon ourselves (working in a confined space), I was forced to look at things differently which resulted in new way of creating images. Unable to capture a complete picture, I started taking small detail shots of the model and then assembling them in Photoshop. In effect, I was using the old TV trick of ‘fixing it in post’. In doing this, I started to look at the body in a more abstract way, almost treating it as a landscape; breaking it into small component pieces to be reassembled later. Having multiple focal points led to some interesting juxtapositions of texture and color in the final composites, something I would never have achieved if I had been able to shoot a large single image. Small changes in angle are magnified; it’s like doing a jigsaw, except none of the pieces quite fit together.
Looking at the work now, I can see all sorts of influences – my design background; the search for the ‘perfect’ composition;
the work of John Coplans, David Hockney and Jenny Saville; the composite shots of the Martian landscapes I remember seeing as a kid. None of these were conscious choices, but my interests seem to seep through unconsciously into my work.
As this series progressed, it has developed in its own way. One of the things about working like this is you are never sure exactly what you’re going to get until you sit down and try and piece
the images together. A seemingly successful shoot may result in nothing satisfactory. The images seem to change and shift as I start to blend them, with multiple options presenting themselves as the composition begins to come together. It is all a bit nerve wracking.
With Relationships as the starting point for the work presented here, I explored the double portrait, looking at the connection between two of my friends. The finished work though is also about the contrasts between the shape of their bodies, skin-tones, hair color... and of course the relationship between the photographer and the model.