Harry Hook (LO5)

I have just watched the documentary Photographing Africa on BBC4 about photographer and film maker Harry Hook’s project to retrace nomadic Kenyan women he photographed three decades earlier. The program was fascinating both in story and visually but what really delighted me was watching Harry take all his photographs on film. It was particularly interesting watching how he photographed his individual portraits; setting up a black make shift tent in the remote landscape, then sitting the subjects inside it to have their pictures taken. This set up then created the illusion of a tradition studio portrait which contrasted with the subject. I was unable to see his lighting but I believe some form of artificial light was used. The images were then shot on film. In an article in the Guardian(link below) Harry comments how he preferred the black backdrop as it emphasises the different skin tones and allows the characters to burst out from the backdrop, which they certainly do with the bright coloured beads.

This style of photography where you create a studio style shot on location, photographing the different character that come along has appealed to me before. I’ve seen used by street photographers, in New York in particular, wanting to isolate the characters they meet from the busy locations and most recently by Cassey Orr with her project Saturday Girl. It’s certainly something I would like to try and will consider doing as part of my project. In preppy ration for this I have started to look at portable backdrops and will try contact Harry Hook to ask more questions about his style and photographic techniques.




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