Who says that during the self distancing period you cannot meet and photograph others from the comfort of your own home? Who says you need your camera at all?
We humans are known for our ability to adapt to challenging situations and changes. Whatever life throws at us, we will find a way to see it through somehow. Current social distancing measures and restrictions aren’t great for mental and physical health or for creativity but Tim Dunk, a U.K. based photographer, has found his own unique way of making the most of the current situation by using FaceTime, an iOS device based video-call application, to create unique portraits of clients and fellow creatives all over the world.
Dunk, who regularly enjoyed the social aspects of his chosen creative industry, found himself lacking the face-to-face connection with friends and others, who he’d regularly collaborate with. Feeling bored and lonely at times, as well as missing his job, Dunk got the spark that ignited his creativity to set up shoots that could be done remotely and safely. Combining photography, the social aspect of shooting, and using applications creatively, Dunk set up his first FaceTime shoot with his friend Sally and the rest is history.
Dunk uses his MacBook to shoot through while his subjects are preferably using an iPhone but an iPad can be work, albeit at the cost of image quality. By pressing an onscreen button to take a photo, FaceTime captures a 3 second video from which stills can be extracted from. During the first remote photo session, Dunk wasn’t quite sure how it’ll all come together and whether the technology used would hinder the process. But, luckily both Dunk and his first subject Sally enjoyed the process and felt “energized and emotionally elevated” by it. Sally commented after the shoot that it gave her a boost of positivity and lifter her out of her “tired, gray isolation funk that morning and it was like a little escape through FaceTime.”
After that first photo shoot, Dunk slightly altered the process, learning along the way. Seeing as these sessions are done via a video call, Dunk asks his subjects to show him around their space so he knows what they can work with, and also encourages them to add any suggestions or ideas. He will then mentally note what parts of their home will make for a great backdrop, assesses the available light, and asks his subjects to open or close curtains and door to see how it affects the scene.
In regards to the technology used, Dunk has begun to slow down and make the most of the technology at his disposal instead of working against it. Shooting in this way you are bound to embrace the imperfections because:
There is a lo-fi quality and specific ways that model of iPhone reads light, plus limited adjustments I can make, so really the most impact is made by the instructions I give the subject to adjust their environment and the connection between us both — no different to any portrait session, really. It’s similar to working with media like Polaroid cameras — you learn to embrace the limitations and make them part of the process, rather than try to make a FaceTime camera into a DSLR.
Since starting theses sessions, Dunk has received recognition and positive feedback from his subjects, the photographic community, and the media. Not knowing how it’ll all turn out, Dunk took a creative risk and it certainly paid off. As of now, he has shot nearly 60 sessions and people are continuing to book onto them every day. The beauty of this project has translated into allowing Dunk to pursue something that brings him joy and allows him to continue being creative, all the while shooting and “visiting” homes of people throughout Britain and around the world.
The current lockdown is tough for everyone but these sessions have given Dunk something to look forward to every day. They keep him busy, give his workday a structure, and allows to fulfill his social needs. Not just that, a portion of money paid for each session also gets donated to a U.K. based food bank charity, The Trussel Trust, allowing Dunk to give something back to those in need.
If you want learn more about Dunk’s tips on how to conduct these FaceTime sessions, you can read his guide. If you want to do something different and be a model for the day, you can book a session on his photography website.
How are you dealing with your creativity during the lockdown?