CD: Marc thanks for being part of the FUSEVISUAL project. We met via the net a couple of years back when I came across your “Last Stand” project on Indie gogo. Lets start there.( http://marcwilson.co.uk/the-last-stand/) This may take a couple of questions. When you started the project why did you decide to go with crowdfunding rather than pay for the project out of pocket? How has crowd funding the project (Indie gogo + Emphasis) increased the audience for the book and show? Do you think it was a major part in publicizing the project?
Marc Wilson: Hi Cameron, pleasure to be a part of the project.
Well I can actually answer both those questions in one really. Certainly there was the financial aspect yes and to be honest this was probably the initial driving factor. Whist I do work commercially and overall have funded about £8000 (about 65%) of my own funds to the project, the investment of the crowd-funding gave me access to a ‘bulk’ of funds in one go meaning I could photograph the longer location trips. Prior to that I had been on multiple one or two day shoots, paying for film, processing etc. The crowd-funding money allowed me to shoot on locations further afield that initially meant 9 days along the northern coast of France and Belgium and 8 days in the north east of England and all over the Scottish mainland; and more recently in The Northern Isles and soon the west coast of France and Norway and Denmark.
That said, it is the second aspect of crowd-funding, the increased audience, that will have the most profound impact on the work. The point in any project is to tell the story to an audience so the whole crowd-funding and social media aspect has been of great importance in that respect. There is also a long list of names waiting for the book to come out next year which is of course great.
CD: How has the publicity for the project increased your opportunities to expand the “Last Stand”?
Marc Wilson: That’s always a hard one to quantify I think. Generally one thing tends to lead onto another so I think the publicity surrounding the project has certainly helped generate more publicity but of course it is results that matter, and I think awards, exhibitions, book deals, etc come from the work itself as opposed to any ‘chatter’ about it. I think its fairly easy to create a buzz online but harder to back it up with the substance. To me that is why I love having exhibitions of the work as for this work the experience of viewing a print is so much more fulfilling than viewing images on screen.
CD: Most if not of all of the shoot was shot on 4×5 film (5×4 for the UK readers). Describe what it was like to shoot and then the backside of the workflow with scanning and any problems you came across.
Marc Wilson: Yes all photographed on 5×4 (or 4×5 for the US readers). I use this camera purely because it gives me the best of all worlds for this project. Shift movements that I need and huge negs that give me beautiful large prints with all the subtle tonality of the views in front of me, especially with the light I like to shoot in. It’s also such a considered approach of using this camera and to be honest as few sheets of film as possible that it suits the subject matter perfectly. Its not without it’s issues though, the main one finding a good scanner whom can get all the detail I need without any issues of scan lines, and the like, all at a price to fit in the project budget. It took five tests, and one quite strong conversation, before I got there. Also due to the nature of the work involved in getting the shots, having to take the film and negs to the labs for processing and scanning by hand…too scared of loss in the post.
CD: Is there one place that you shot for the project that holds special meaning to you? Any scary or unusual events or weather that may happened during your shoots?
Marc Wilson: That’s an often asked question and I’m yet to give a direct answer to. Some locations have pulled at me for their beauty, some for the terrible loss of like and tragedy that surrounds them, some for the incredible feats of bravery that are linked to them.
I’ve had to break out of a locked hotel in Scotland at 4.30 in the morning to get to my location, sat on a very cold beach for 7 hours watching the tide go all the way out and back in again until it was at the right height (again a very cold Scotland in March) and spent 3 hours standing by a rapidly decomposing seal waiting for the light and tides on the coast of France. It was there the day before on my reccie so I expected the worst!
CD: Tell us about how you became a photographer?
Marc Wilson: Like most kids in the late 70’s and 80’s I had taken pictures with various Kodak Instamatics and maybe even the odd disk camera or two, on family holidays but it was not until at University, studying Sociology, that I started thinking about it more. My first exciting photography venture is when I took an old polaroid camera with me on a cycling trip in France…possibly not the best bit of gear given my limited bag space but lots of fun. My Sociology degree then led me onto my Photography degree and subsequent Masters.
I remember at college loving the work of Christian Boltanski and Duane Michaels and for me at first it was all about the idea…didn’t take me long to realize the visual was quiet important as well!
After spending some years having making small pieces of work and having limited success I started to work commercially also about 7 years ago, concentrating on interiors mainly for designers, kitchen companies, etc and also of course shoot exteriors as well. I feel very lucky in that I am able to photograph both commercial paid work and for my projects (that sometimes pay) so each informs and balances the other. Whilst I photograph my project work on a large format camera (or previous ones with a medium format camera) all my commercial work is made using a dslr with shift and other lenses so whilst different on the outside the methods of working are fairly similar…both very considered.
CD: What advice do you have for an up and coming shooter?
Marc Wilson: Simple things really : Work hard, enjoy what you do, do everything to the utmost best of your abilities…and smile…you’ll be surprise how far a good attitude can get you.
Know about gear but remember at end of day it’s quite limiting really…its your eye that has the biggest influence…the gear just gets your vision onto the film / sensor.
Know lots of stuff but focus if you can, be brilliant at one thing and become known for that…but know how to do everything else just in case.
Oh and don’t mistake online success for real success. Online success may make you feel good but it doesn’t pay the bills or put your work onto walls or into print.