Love at first sight.

During my 3 weeks in Canada I was asked, at least five times a day, the same question – “Why/what/who are you photographing?”, and every time someone asked me, each time I was asked to explain my motives for being in The Northwest Territories with a bag full of cameras and 150 rolls of film, I’d find it almost impossible to explain. Toward the end of the third week, maybe a little bit ‘late in the day’, I decided that I needed a mission statement, something coherent. Most people assumed that I was in Yellowknife to photograph the Northern lights or the vast wildlife in the area, so I needed to be clear – “I’m taking photos of people and things. You, being local, take everything for granted, like the colour in that wooden house or the sexy tattooed chic who works in that restaurant. You can’t see it, but the rest of the world loves this shit”. No more questions.

These photos are just a few random images from the project I’ve just started with writer, and good friend, Trevor Gibbs (he never asks me why I’m photographing the lines on the road). These are just a taste of what the project is about. I’m going to need to go back to The NWT a few more time, after a couple of weeks in Yellowknife I realised that this is just the start of a longer term photo-essay…which is good, because I fell in love with Yellowknife the second I stepped out of the airport.

Technical notes – all images were made using Mamiya 7II and 645 Pro TL cameras and Fuji Pro 400H film. I did take 20 rolls of Kodak Ektar 100, but I didn’t use much of it. The title image was made using a Holga GCFN and 400H film. I had all 116 rolls of film processed at Peak Imaging in Sheffield and I’m now in the process of scanning the lot using an Epson V700.

ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT PHIL KNEEN. PLEASE DO NOT USE, IN ANY WAY, WITHOUT PERMISSION

 

25 comments

  1. Leanne

    Can’t wait to see more – and I live here!! Since you’ve said you’re coming back, can you please bring Amber with you next time?

  2. upnorthphotographic

    How do you do it? You could give the exact same camera, lens and film to any other photographer and they wouldn’t…couldn’t get images like this! They are amazing!

  3. Looks great. This really inspires me to get medium format camera. My favourite is that one from airport.
    And on the note of being asked why are you photographing something: it happens to me very often just wandering around Brighton, and I never know what to say.

    • Thanks!

      Yes, it can actually be quite embarrassing! Having a project, a reason to be there helps, but not always. People asked where the pictures were going – I don’t know? I’m freelance, my agent decides where the photos go.

  4. Great shots, and a perfectly good reason to be taking them. And a good reason to take photos close to home too. These really resonate with me, probably for different reasons than many of your other viewers. Probably because I am Canadian, and have worked in the north – I have spent a lot of time in canoes like the one you show, have released a truck to live out it’s days in the wilds of a forest, and am fascinated by those huge fake-wood sided station wagons (estate cars) and other land yachts. There is one in perfect condition down my street that is used every day (probably has to fill the tank every couple of days).
    Anyway, you have captured a lot of the feeling that is familiar to me. I look forward to more, hopefully much more.

  5. Great mission statement! Thanks for sharing thr images. Really like them – being a film newbie and not knowing much about it the film you used for the portraits works really well. Like the colour and how delicate the picture is.
    Thanks for sharing and have fun scanning!

  6. Beachtree Photographic

    This is top-end photography, very well done. Phil, I’ve emailed you the contact details of an agency in Germany who would love this stuff. They’re expecting you.

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  8. George

    I’ve known your blog for a couple of months now, found it while browsing about medium format. Really great stuff, I like your environmentally-natural oriented portraits.
    A dream personal project would be to travel (to Asia) and use Medium Format. Perhaps in a couple of years I can get the budget for medium format.
    I really like your instax shots on the other post. I keep one of myself that was taken when I was a kid, on a supermarket; and it’s quite jewel like. However, shooting instant film would get me more broke than I am (student).

    Must be quite nice to have been there. I’d love to ride one of those DC3′s, as one of my late childhood-preteen loves was aviation. Your photograph has done the old lady justice.

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