by Trevor Yerbury Published 01/02/2012
We were approached nearly two years ago, through a mutual friend, to discuss the possibility of a photographic exhibition that would commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Poppy Scotland Appeal, formally the Early Haig Poppy Fund and now affiliated with the Royal British Legion.
Initial discussions involved taking 50 portraits of veterans, charity supporters and individuals who supported the poppy appeal in some way. However, following various committee meetings, nothing much was heard for over a year until September of last year when we were asked to attend a meeting with the charity. Here it was suggested that instead of making 50 portraits we made 90 Portraits. We received confirmation that the project was to proceed exactly 90 days before the 11th of November so the title 90 Portraits in 90 Days was born though we were pretty sure that it was an impossible task considering the images were to be taken all over Scotland! Much publicity was achieved, with the public being asked to nominate suitable subjects that fitted into the criteria laid down by the charity. The charity also had a database of suitable subjects ranging from WW2 veterans, through all the recent conflicts, and right up to date, with those from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite Faye's protestations I decided to go back to shooting on my 10x8 Canham plate camera with a 350mm lens. I also decided, partly due to the limited funding from the charity, to shoot in black and white. With the problem of sourcing 10x8 Tmax stock I decided to use 10x8 FP4 which, taking into account the processing, worked out at around £6 per exposure; so we limited each session to only two exposures unless we encountered any problems. Without exception, taking time to decide shooting location, composing the image and interacting with the subject, two exposures were more than sufficient which proves that in this digital age 'machine gunning' any session is not necessary and only makes for more time spent sitting staring at a screen!
It must be observed that, without exception, each sitter was astonished at the camera, many thinking it was an antique when actually it is only around five years old. They had a special respect being photographed by such an impressive camera though with wideopen aperture of f9 some exposures were over a second in length.
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