The in-between


Nichola Bartlett

I have been taking “mistake” photos since a child when I used cameras
with no film in them. I am looking for spaces in between the things we think we have seen. I am looking for an atmosphere, a connection between subject and viewer, ghosts, fleeting light, movement, something I missed when looking through the viewfinder

When I am deliberately in pursuit of error I find it best to have minimal or no expectations of the images at all.   I really like these ‘mistakes’ and have, through trial and error over the years, tied to replicate them selectively to produce unexpected images. Using and finding mistakes: Certain unsuitable techniques produce consistent yet unpredictable results for example over/under exposure, a  faulty camera. I like the camera to produce something that I did not see at the time of taking the photograph.

In the first image “Eve”  my subject had already been photographed in a more straightforward way and was willing – and had the patience – to let me play for a bit.  I had found a pool of odd, interesting end of day light and put my subject in it. I set up the composition and the deliberately did not look through the view finder .  As we talked I clicked the shutter.  I wanted to catch something liminal or fleeting in the light, but instead caught an expression or feeling from the subject that I wasn’t aware of at the time and didn’t see until I reviewed the pictures later.  These are things that just evaporate or fail to appear or when watched to closely, when I try deliberately to photograph them.

In image two “Bonfire”  I wanted to see what the digital camera could do.  I thought it would struggle with the contrast of light and dark and it did, but I was happy to waste quite a few frames just to see how it would manage.  I don’t like using settings to help the camera cope.  Again I didn’t find this image until I reviewed the images the next day.  I like the pinky orange cast it has given the flames.  I like that there is movement that give the subject life.

These two photographs represent attempts to experiment with digital as I used to with film.  I think it is harder to deliberately make mistakes with digital. Film is something that can be played with more easily.


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