Photographer Alexander Caminada's photo series profiles artists and their passions

It's widely acknowledged that if you want something you've never had before, you have to do something you've never done before. Such was the logic behind Amsterdam-born and Stroud-based photographer Alexander Caminada's new photographic series after he took matters into his own hands.

Tired of the photography commissions he was getting and concerned that they weren't truly reflective of what he was capable of, Caminada set to work on the Artists portrait series, enlisting friends and strangers involved in painting and sculpture to sit for him. It was a pivot from his usual commissions, creating images for magazines, charities and businesses.

"I've always enjoyed taking pictures of other creatives, probably because we end up having fascinating conversations about life, the arts and politics," he says.

In each session, Caminada asked those photographed to suggest another artist for him to take portraits of – "The idea was to have a link between each artist, a kind of daisy chain of connections."

Those featured were at all points in their careers, with some just starting out and others more established. This diversity of experience proved inspiring for Caminada, who himself was grappling with creating a new form of work and motivating himself to do so.

"Discovering where people work is always a nice surprise," he says. "Their environment so often takes a critical role in how they create their work. Painter Paul Emsley, for instance, took me to the back of his garden, where he'd installed a full-size shipping container. It was craned in across a ditch from a neighbouring farm, with no windows. But the light inside is made from a DIY contraption that he can move around the floor. That light was perfect for his portraits, and the windowless steel box somehow really matched the dark and chaotic mood of his abstract paintings nailed to the walls".

The project was inspired by Caminada feeling uninspired by his commissioned work; engaging with this project forced him to let go of self-imposed preconceptions about his business and identity as a creative – allowing him to continue learning and developing as an artist.

"After nearly 40 years as a full-time photographer, it soon became clear that my overriding interest is portraiture," he adds. "From the moment I first picked up a camera, I'd always been fascinated by how I could best capture personality and character in the people around me. No other area of photography has ever provided me with the same emotional connection to the craft, and it continues to fascinate and fill me with ideas and inspiration".

Reflecting on his life's work in this way allowed Caminada to embed perfected photography techniques into the shoot while cultivating conditions that allowed for spontaneity. The shoots were relaxed and uncomplicated – meaning he could respond to subjects individually.

The portraits are connected through their muted colouration, using low contrast to enhance the subtlety of the subject's expression and stature. Technically, Caminada used a slow exposure, which required a steady tripod for the subjects to stay quite still.


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