I’m in that inevitable stage that every photographer finds themselves in sooner or later – the start of a personal project. Taking that idea that has been brewing in your head for who knows how long, and actually making it real.
Besides the most basic “idea stage”, it’s hard to label the start of a project, as there seems to be varying levels of “beginnings” for one to be in; there’s a big leap between when you first think of a project, and when you’ve put down the finishing touches to your idea just before your first shoot. Both seem to count as being at the start of a project, with the first shoot as the first goal.
To be more precise about my own position, I’m just ahead of the first big obstacle – starting to shoot. I have the basis of my concept laid out, I have a visual style in mind… but wanting to create a series of portraits, I’m still missing the most important element, my actual subjects.
The current project I am trying to start is one on type casted actors. Without going into too much detail, it’s an idea I’ve had since the beginning of my last year at university, which was about a year ago. Having moved to London only a few months ago, it feels like I’m finally in a place where I can realize it. At the same time though, I have only recently moved to London – I don’t know that many people, and I certainly don’t know any actors personally or through friends.
Thankfully I have the Internet and social media today to find people for my project, without having any prior connection to them. However, that can be a downfall in itself. How do I know which people to trust when getting replies to my project? Am I coming across in a genuine way so that people trust me enough to show interest?
As of now, I have tried both direct and passive ways of trying to get people involved. I haven’t gotten any successful connections yet, because even though I have gotten interest from people to participate, they haven’t been suitable candidates. The biggest misconception has been actors thinking this is a paid acting role on camera, even when I have made it clear that it’s a photo documentary project.
When I first started posting online in October 2014, I did actually come into contact with an actor who seemed perfect for what I want to explore – he was a professional, but not extremely well-known, and a clear example of someone who gets handed only very specific roles. But since we started talking online, obviously he was a bit wary of me, and despite offering to speak on the phone before actually meeting up, our schedules never seemed to match and he eventually stopped replying to my messages. So in spite of not even having photographed anyone yet, I have already had “the one that got away”…
This is still my first big project post-university that I’ve tried to undertake, and I’m sure my experiences so far are no different from what other photographers encounter when they start looking for people for projects. I might be stuck in the beginning for now, but as I said before, it’s inevitable for everyone. The one to decide if this project continues on or dies here is me – and I haven’t planned an end to it yet.
(In the meanwhile, if anyone reading this knows any actors, or happens to be one themselves, and feel like type casting applies to them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to mbeltowska (at) gmail.com!)
You find out more about Marta and her work work here http://www.martabeltowska.co.uk/