Welcome to the Funny Farm

This fading sign is on the inside of the communal shed on our allotment field in Ipswich. This project began in September 2019 then stalled for a number of reasons, the biggest culprit being the COVD-19 pandemic that meant I could not really approach people and photograph them on the field as it would have meant me engaging with them physically to get the model release forms signed off. What started me on this project was the generosity and kindness shown to me by Gordon Robinson who invited me to coffee at his shed when I was a relative newcomer to the field. Sadly, Gordon died in March 2021 aged 94.

How I'm making this series

I make decisions early on in my project work as to what camera and medium I shall use. In this case I chose to use the Mamiya RZ67 ProII with whatever out of date black and white film stock I had. As I was starting in the relatively bright month of September, that meant FP4 and once that was used up, HP5. Shooting began in earnest again in August 2021 when restrictions had been lifted. I have used up all my FP4 and now I am working through my remaining stock of HP5. Films are developed using Adox FX39 and scanned on an Epson flat bed scanner. All participants are asked if they wish to take part and are invited to self-select their favourite tool and pose for me in front of their shed or greenhouse if they have one. I do very little to pose the subjects, allowing them to relax as much as they can in their familiar surroundings. Space is a limiting factor so I'm using a 50mm wide angle lens and I'm also popping in 1/4 power flash from a Metz45CL-4. All very old fashioned but at the same time the gear acts as an ice-breaker.

The Elements

It goes without saying that using an ageing studio camera in the field requires dry conditions so I'm making the best of fitting in what I can during dry and preferably not too sunny conditions whilst keeping on top of my own plot.

Field 14 Allotmenteers, Ipswich