The thing is, I don't understand all the hype about Richmond. There are some locations that I find picturesque indeed, like the Richmond Riverside, which I have photographed quite a few times. However, apart from this, I couldn't bring myself to enjoy shooting in Richmond. Except for the early morning hours, the riverside is crowded, making it difficult to capture a clean shot of the model, unless this is what you intend to capture: your model with a random crowd in the background. It's not my thing, to be honest.
The first time I went to Richmond for a photoshoot was with Barbara Adeniken, a beautiful woman and an amazing stylist who asked me to take some photos for her fashion blog. Back then, I didn't know much about fashion photography and seized the opportunity to dip my toe in and learn a thing or two. It turned out that Barbara liked my images, commenting that no other photographer had captured her the way I did, which was exactly what she was after. From that time on, we worked on images for her blog in various locations in London. It all began in Richmond, though. And yes, I have learned a lot.
A couple of times I took my camera to Richmond for a night shoot, and I quite enjoyed the late evening vista of the riverside with beautifully lit architecture, boats on the river, and people having drinks in restaurants. But apart from these rare occasions, I really don't understand why Richmond might be a good location for a shoot. For me, it's quite an average town with extremely busy streets, not-so-captivating architecture, getting crowded most of the time, and, all in all, it doesn't offer much as a photoshoot location.
I used to live a few miles away from Richmond, and visiting Richmond Park became a Sunday habit for my wife and me. Unlike the town, the Park itself offers a sense of tranquillity, peacefulness, and detachment from the busy life we lived in London. We genuinely enjoyed long walks, lazy strolls among the woods, and encounters with deer.
When I think about Richmond Park, this sense of freedom and tranquillity are the first things that come to my mind, and I wanted this to be a theme for the photoshoot with Isabella. As you can see in the series of photographs, she's a beautiful woman with a unique look, and, even more importantly, she is coupled with an amazing personality, full of life and creativity—an ideal person to be featured in this series.
Apart from the peacefulness that is so characteristic of the location, the natural environment gave me the opportunity to talk about the whole creative process. I love the nostalgic feel of black and white photographs. They create an ephemeral, dreamlike, sometimes surreal world that I'd like to step into, especially when it applies to the works of photography masters like Peter Lindbergh and Rodney Smith. On one hand, I'm seduced by the beauty of the scene; on the other hand, I'm aware that it has been produced to achieve that effect. Richmond Park gave me the opportunity to showcase the best of these two worlds: the ephemeral beauty of the model and the surreal scenery of the shoot.
"Breaking the fourth wall" is a concept primarily associated with theatre, film, literature, and other forms of narrative storytelling where there is an established boundary between the fictional world and the audience. In these mediums, it involves characters or narrators acknowledging the audience or their own existence within the story.
In the context of photography, the concept of "breaking the fourth wall" doesn't apply in the same way because photography is a visual medium that captures moments in time rather than a narrative medium with characters and a fictional world. The technique or composition that draws the viewer's attention to the act of making a photograph and shows the camera's presence will be referred to as "self-reflexive photography" or "self-conscious photography."
In a philosophical sense, self-reflexive photography draws attention to its own creation and can raise several thought-provoking questions and considerations, challenging the idea of photography as a purely objective representation of reality. Consequently, this can lead to discussions about authenticity and truth in art. When viewers are made aware of the camera's presence or the photographer's involvement, they may question the authenticity of the image and the intentions behind its creation.
And here comes yet another element: a ‘no retouch’ approach showing my subject as it was originally captured by the camera, without any digital manipulation or editing to improve or modify the appearance. Would you say it’s raw beauty? Would you say there is a truth captured, with all these imperfections being a part of the subject's character and authenticity?
I’d like to invite you to consider the complex interplay between the creator, the medium, and the viewer, prompting questions about the boundaries of representation and the ways in which art reflects and shapes our understanding of the world.
Photoshoot with Isabella Domville. Richmond Park, October 2023.
Captured on Nikon D810, Nikon F2, Mamiya RB67.