I really do love the work of photographer Francesca Woodman. She took the sort of thoughtful photographs I wished I could have taken at her age – sadly, she committed suicide a few months before her 23rd birthday. At 23 I had just left art college and was still wrapped up in self portraiture and self reflection, and I remember stumbling upon an exhibition of her work at the Photographer’s Gallery in London and being blown away by every single image. Yes! This was work I could relate to! I especially love the image above, with her wings and ethereal form, and the light glowing through the window. Her images make me wish I was back in the college darkroom, making my black & white prints and exploring my artsy ideas.
Angie asked: You've got the last ever pack of Polaroid film and there's one shot left in that pack... what to you take your last Polaroid of?
That’s easy. It would either be a portrait of my sister or a still life of a cupcake, so if it was my last shot in my last pack, I would photograph my sister holding two cupcakes, and while the Polaroid developed we would feast on the cupcakes and toast Polaroid with a perfectly-chilled glass of Champagne.
blue bicicletta asked: What is the first photograph you ever remember taking?
I honestly can’t remember, but I remember having a picture of Debbie Harry that I’d torn from a magazine and taped to the mirror in my bedroom. I spent a whole Sunday afternoon attempting to take a self portrait that looked like her. It didn’t work; I was 13. I continued taking self portraits for another 10 years.
Dhon asked: where do you get your Polaroid films posted on your pages?
I buy all my Polaroid film from www.polapremium.com
Nic asked: What is your favorite photograph taken by you? And which one would you choose that was taken by someone else?
My favourite photograph changes weekly – daily even! At the moment I am loving the Polaroid I took of my breakfast on Christmas Day (above); there’s nothing special about the picture, but all those circles are making me happy.
One of my favourite Flickr features is the ability to ‘favourite’ images from your contacts; I often spend time meandering through my faves, soaking in the light and colour and inspiration. This week I love this shot, and this one, and this one.
R. asked: How many of the things you photograph do you truly experience? (For example, did you try any ravioli from Lucca's after taking that bottom photo?) Or are the majority of your photos things that interest/appeal to you on a merely visual level?
No, I didn’t even go inside Lucca, and now I look at the Polaroid and wish I had (I stood in the middle of the road to take the shot, so at the time I just wanted to record the wonderful colours before any cars ran me over). Half the photographs I take were shot on the hoof, like capturing butterflies in a net. Something catches my eye and I want to record it – maybe it’s the colour and shape of a building, or the juxtaposition of a group of objects. The rest of my shots record the things I do; I love to photograph meals and moments, friends and gatherings.
Cindy asked: which is best: sunshine or shadow?
For my state of mind: sunshine. For picture-taking: some shadow.
Nan asked: If you were sent back in time (for 100 days) to the 1880s, and got one of those first family (b&W, Kodak) '100 picture' cameras... Where would you go, and what what would you take pictures of, so you could bring them back and show them to us in 2010?
Presumably I would still in be in the UK after walking through the time travel door, so I would make my way to old London town. There I would take pictures of some of my favourite areas to see how they looked back then: Brick Lane, Soho, Bloomsbury, Portobello Road, Hampstead Heath. I’d also photograph the areas I like less, as maybe they looked fabulous in 1880: Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square, Covent Garden. I’d love to see Battersea Power Station but unfortunately that wasn’t built until 1930. Shame. I’d also take many photos of the people, observing what they wore, how they talked to each other, how they got around town. And I’d spend some time in pubs, chatting up the locals and sampling the beer.
Christine asked: I would love to know how you change the colours in your Polaroids? What do you do in Photoshop?
First of all I scan the Polaroids with my Epson 4490 scanner. Polaroid film generally has a yellowish cast to it, which the scanner tends to overemphasise, so everything i do in Photoshop is simply to correct the colour of the scan. I use images > adjustments > selective colour to take out the yellow and get the image as close to the original as i can. I then adjust the curves a fraction if the image need lightening, and remove any dust specks that the scanning might have picked up using the clone and spot healing brush tools... and that's it.