In a little over 2 months, on September 5th, I’ll be flying 3500 to Yellowknife in the North West Territories of Canada to shoot a 3 week photo-essay with writer Trevor Gibbs. I’d originally asked Trevor to manage a different project I was thinking about, based around the South West States of America, however, shortly after Trevor came on board we decided that we might as well make it a joint venture. After a couple of weeks researching the S/W States idea we came to the conclusion that America wasn’t for us, for now…
So, why choose Yellowknife? Well, I’ve always been interested in visiting and photographing the people who live a bit ‘out of the way’. We discussed Mongolia, toyed with Patagonia and flirted briefly with Kamchatka, a desolated peninsula of land in the far North East of Russia, but my interest always headed back to the Canadian Arctic. This is the part of the world that interests me the most, anywhere north of 60 degrees latitude – Alaska,Northern Canada,Iceland,Greenland,Northern Russia and Siberia…the cold bits, the desolate bits.
Yellowknife itself isn’t actually in the Arctic, it sits on the shores of The Great Slave Lake, about 250 south of the Arctic circle.I’m not sure how we’re covering that last 250 miles, I’m still trying to find-out if there’s any drivable roads? Trevor’s probably arranged to have us flown there on the back of a dragon, knowing his organisational skills.
This project differs slightly to our last collaboration, which documented the lives of the people affected and involved in the Solway Harvester fishing trawler tragedy. In that project Trevor’s words were captions for my images and my images were illustrations to his text, the two supported each other. In this project my photos and Trevor’s words will work together, but will also stand on their own as individual entities. I’m going to Canada to take photos, but I’m also going to be shooting video for a short documentary, writing my own words for various blogs and magazine articles and my own daily log which I hope to publish on our return.
I’m shooting the project on film, which to be honest, has proved to be a bit of a logistical nightmare! After 3 weeks I’ll have 130 exposed rolls of Fuji Pro 400H and Kodak Ektar 100 to get back to the UK for developing. I’ve bought the film from the US, mainly because it’s half the price than Canada, and had it shipped to Yellowknife. I’m going to risk the two x-ray passes and bring the film back to the UK and have it developed at Peak Imaging in Sheffield. I could have the developing done in Calgary, but would you trust such an important project to a company you’d never used before? Me neither.
A lot of people ask me, with some amazement, why I’m shooting film, would it not be easier to shoot digital? Yes, it probably would, but I prefer film.
Hardware – my two primary cameras will be the Mamiya 7II (6×7 cm) and Mamiya 645 pro TL (6×4.5 cm) I’ll also be shooting film on a Holga 6x6cm. I’m taking a Canon 5D MK2, mainly to shoot video, but I’ll probably shoot stills on that too. And of course there’s the iPhone 4s for stills and video.
So, I’m pretty much ready to roll, I think?