It’s the final week of making in The Weston Studio at mac. We feel we have a range of useful shots in the bag…  the sequencing of them is tricky – the right variety and relationship between images come into to play. A lot of them will be culled. Last week we were quite illustrative in the way we set up the images and now want to create some looser atmospheric pictures. This has involved a massive make… as we are creating a miniature city of tower blocks…

A quick visit to Birmingham’s premier drive-thru cardboard company resulted in 25 cardboard boxes ready to be whittled, an army of makers would have been handy at this point – but still, two days later and we’ve got a pretty atmospheric city – just waiting to be populated by 3mm high people and illuminated by fairy lights – we hope to start shooting this afternoon.



Last week we got into a rhythm, making in the morning and shooting in the afternoon. We set ourselves a challenge to complete a sequence of 25 images by the end of Friday. These shots refer to sections of the text and an image is created depicting elements of the story. There has been a lot miniature making –  bollards, trams, pigeons… These pieces often only end up adding texture to a picture, or casting a shadow – but help give the image a visual integrity and add useful ‘noise’ to our blurry pictures.

We are planning not to tinker much in post production (photoshop!), so are taking a lot of care in setting up the shot… we have no control over the aperture using the pinhole camera, shutter speed is how we create the shot… there have been a few 20 second pauses as the picture takes!

Colour has been important and we’ve been placing different gels in front of the pinhole – different sections are taken in different hues and we hope to use a subtle colour arc across the story. Each day a couple of images out of the hundreds we have shot make it up to the wall to make a part of the sequence. It builds gradually and the visual story is beginning to form.

Fast dirty serendipity


This morning, the scalpels were out again. Becky was putting the finishing touches to a rather brutalist apartment block, and I was making a fence out of strips of cardboard.

Cardboard’s a brilliant material to work with, especially if you want to make something quickly and cheaply, and you’re more interested in the general shape than the perfection of the finish. Working quickly is especially fun with a cheap material: it doesn’t matter so much if things go wrong.

One of the themes of this project – for me, at least – is that excitiment and liberation which I was feeling as I worked this morning, scalpel flying, glue gun at the ready beside me. Working fast and dirty, with minimal risk (apart from the scalpel blade, of course) but a big reward as my work took shape before me.

It’s something I should do more of – make a regular practise of fast dirty experimentation. Low risk, but with the chance of a big reward. And maybe not just in cardboard, but transferred to other media and making too. The reward might just be that the thing I’ve made, or written, or whatever… or it might be the discovery of an idea for something else. Exciting.


We’ve got a bit of a pattern emerging for our days this week. Coffee, review of yesterdays work, and then the rest of the morning making and preparing new stuff. Then in the afternoon, the digital pin-hole cameras appear, and we start making images.

Working with low-fi techniques like this is kind of where the magic lies. The simplicity of the pin-hole camera takes away a lot of the control that a regular camera offers, but at the same time, it gives us serendipity. We’re never quite sure how an image will turn out until we’ve taken it, but, then eventually (with patience, luck, experimentationm skill) we find the serendipitous image that somehow works, and it feels great.

But, let’s be clear, trying to engender serendipity several times a day feels a lot like hard work!



Back in the studio for the final burst of making. There’s lots to do, but following our previous development work, we’re feeling good and have a clear sense of what we’re aiming for.

The scalpels are flying. The cardboard’s taking the brunt of it.