I’ll be exhibiting a couple of my earliest images at M Contemporary Gallery, Sydney next week. The Genesis Project (opens May 20th) is a group exhibition for Head On Photo Festival featuring an eclectic mix of prominent photographers (Australian and international) that have delved into their archives to find the image(s) that first made them think, “that’s it!”. Along side the images will be the story of the formative, creative moments that helped mold them into the photographers they have now become. The exhibition will feature work from photographers / artists such as Roger Ballen, Ben Lowy, Chris Rainer, Murray Fredericks, Peter Eastway, Katrin Koenning, Craig Golding…
Experiment with Polaroid Type 55 (Will) 1989 © Sam Harris
Below is the text that will accompany my image ‘Experiment with Polaroid Type 55 (Will)
I made this image in the very early days of being a photographer, at a time when my bedroom (with curtains gaffa taped to the walls) was also a makeshift darkroom. I practically lived in that room 24/7 and would obsessively experiment through the day and night. I had a large format 5×4 monorail camera and had discovered the wonders of Polaroid Type 55 film. You’d get a black & white positive print and also a negative, which required soaking in a clearing solution. I decided as an experiment i’d leave the neg in the solution for a few days, to see what would happen… When i came to remove the neg from the solution, to my surprise, the photographic emulsion (containing the image) started to slide off the celluloid. I remember it reminded me of the skin on hot milk…
Carefully i placed the negative on a towel to dry. Inspecting it later it seemed ruined. A lot of the emulsion (and the image) had gone or been scratched. However when i carefully placed the neg in my enlarger and made a print i got a wonderful surprise. It looked great, i loved it, it inspired me! This process taught me a valuable lesson that i still stand by today. To embrace experiments and be open to “The Happy Accident“. If we do, we can allow for some magic to happen and our creativity will grow.
My second image represents the photographers first milestone. For me that was this record sleeve for Tremolo EP by My Bloody Valentine. Created at the end of 1990 and released 1991. A band i’m very proud to have work with.
My Bloody Valentine – Tremolo EP © Sam Harris
This record sleeve was one of my first and a favourite. I took my experimentation out of the darkroom and into the studio, trying to achieve similar effects in-camera. My Bloody Valentine were a pioneering Indie band and very hip. After several meetings to discuss the concept we all met in the Curtain Road Studio for the shoot. I had created a wall of cling wrap stretched tightly around two poles, with coloured lights shinning along the surface. The idea was that the model would stand behind this cloud like wall of red & blue light. I’d photograph her, then cross process and over expose the film so i could then sandwich my favorite slides together to create the final image.
The funny thing is that we did this shoot a couple of days before Christmas. The model i’d booked didn’t show up, phoning in and saying she was sick… so with the band sitting on the studio couch in a cloud of smoke, i asked the make-up artist if she’d ever wanted to be on a record cover and help me out in the process. Looking back now, i can’t image it any other way…