British photographer Brendan Barry is well-known for his camera obscura projects. He has taken photos with a camper-camera, container-camera, and plenty more. And during the lockdown, he turned his own bedroom into a camera. In this short film, he shares behind the scenes of taking a color photo with a camera obscura, which is something you can do in your own home.
During the first lockdown, Brendan would go for a walk with his daughter around their neighborhood. They started picking wildflowers, bringing them home, and arranging them, and Brendan would take still life photos. But being crazy about analog processes and camera obscura, he didn’t just whip out a DSLR and took his photos. Brendan rather used a camera and darkroom he made out of his garden shed. Later he switched to an empty building near his home, which he turned into a studio. “The emerging series touches on many themes,” Brendan tells us, “including family, health & wellbeing, reconnecting with nature, exploration of personal space and appreciating one’s immediate surroundings.”
Brendan produced the images using a complex color reversal process that he’s been developing over the last couple of years. “It is long and laborious and the photographs hard to achieve” he explains. “It can take up to eight hours to create a successful exposure.” For this project, Brendan took to shooting through the night. It was partly for health and safety reasons – “open trays of toxic chemicals and curious toddlers don’t mix well,” as he warns. But also, this allowed him to enjoy some peace and quiet.
“I have never been so aware of the bird song and of the different flora and fauna that inhabit the world around me. I heard then saw a barn owl swooping over my garden the one night, I live in the middle of a city and have never experienced this before. This is of course will all change when the aircraft and cars return in force, so it feels even more vital to capture and appreciate what is here, to remind ourselves of what we have all around us, literally on our doorsteps, in the hope that we may seek to retain some of this when normality, whatever form that will take, returns.”
Since most of us are again (or still) in a lockdown, there’s no better time to explore our immediate surroundings. This is exactly what Brendan has done with this project. He explored the little, everyday details of his neighborhood and transformed them into art. You can watch his process in the short film above, commissioned by Maketank and filmed and edited by Lynd. The music was made by Four Tet.
Also take a look at a few photos below, and find more of Brendan’s work on Instagram.