The ideal portrait session requires communication between the photographer and the subject. Tonight was one of those brilliant moments when the stars align and every single photograph has potential to be iconic, if not iconoclastic. Graeme and I had been trying to meet up for a few weeks now, and our busy schedules finally matched at the last minute. The opportunity to photograph Graeme Cameron, founder of Base Camp X, came from the work I had done with Sean Littlejohn a few weeks back. Sean had brought along a few axes made by Base Camp X for the session, and I was so impressed by the quality of the axes that I sent along an email to Graeme to let him see the work I had done on the blog.
What I loved about tonight’s session was that Graeme took the time to talk with me about who he is and what he hoped for from the photographs. So few people take the time to work with me, but those twenty minutes spent telling me about who he is, what his company does, and where he aspires to reach, made our time meaningful. I think that I came away with the principles of what makes Base Camp X’s products so tangible for me: authenticity, bespoke quality and a genuine understanding of how a tool should be the one object we take into our homes that lasts for our family to rely on for generations to come.
For the portraits I wanted to convey the sense of strength and creativity that I got from Graeme within moments of meeting him. I wanted to take a series of photographs that captured both a vintage look, but that still fit within the scope of modern photography. The two images shown in the blog are actually the first and last shots of the night, and hopefully attest to how strong the work was. I simply grabbed the first images I came across, yet they both stand out as my favourite portraits done to date. The first shot takes the t-shirt icon and mimics it in a hyper-real fashion. The pose is strong and clear; full of mystery and void of unnecessary details. The second shot is the only profile photograph I have ever taken, but right from the start I knew it was the one I wanted to take. Graeme is wearing the coolest Patagonia jacket I have laid eyes on, and the axe was a work of art. I went for the Lensbaby Composer lens to create the blurred tilt off the end of the axe head. I love both of these photographs for their honesty and edge.
Graeme brought along a collection of what had to be the finest tools I have seen. From axes to khukri to boots and hammers, I was taken aback by his commitment to quality and understanding that while each item is beautiful as an art piece they would still need to be used for decades. My favourite item, for sentimental reasons, had to be the Hardcore Hammer. My grandmother, who died last year, taught me so many things about how to carry on in this world when it seemed against you, and her most famous solution to any problem was “hit it with a hammer.” These hammers seemed to be the perfect solution that my grandmother would have approved of to solve those problems as they appeared.
Graeme left me with one hammer to experiment with over the next week or so. I wanted to see what I could create in terms of product photography; could I come up with a vision that Base Camp X could work with over time? Regardless, I found inspiration and energy in the portrait session, and expect to turn out a dozen solid images that could be used for a myriad of purposes. Mingus almost ruined the night, however, as he was tumbling through a bag of tools to eat the rawhide grip on a tomahawk prototype. My dog is a complete lunatic…but lunatics make the rest of the world sane.