THE VALLEY OF LITTER

KARL TAYLOR

Enraged by the abundance of plastic waste taking over our oceans, British photographer and Hasselblad Ambassador Karl Taylor decided to make a drastic statement with his imagery; from volunteers collecting thousands of pieces of garbage from the nearby coastline, Karl staged studio shots using a baby placed at centre stage in this valley of litter. With the Hasselblad H6D-100c as his camera of choice, Karl executed his vision with a superior level of detail and tonal range, creating thought provoking images intended to shock its viewers into taking action for our planet.

What gave you the inspiration to photograph this campaign that puts a dramatic spotlight on ocean pollution?

Oceans are vital to human health. Humanity depends on them, but instead of looking after this natural resource, we’re slowly killing it. With so many environmental images out there, unless they contain an element of shock, they are easily overlooked. The message had to be clear and it had to be strong.

How did you add that shock factor in the images?

I started by asking myself what does plastic affect? The answer I came to was us, our children and our future. I knew that one of the items that frequently washed up on shore were syringes and as a parent myself, this is always a concern when taking your children to the beach. So, I decided to put the two together as this would create a real talking point and add some controversy, which is exactly what is needed to raise awareness.

How did you execute your campaign?

My team and I dedicated a weeks’ worth of time to the project, conceptualising and creating images that were made using thousands of pieces of litter collected by volunteers from just 2km of the coastline over one month. Initially I wanted to go for a straightforward studio shot, but to emphasize the link to the ocean I changed that and decided to do a composite image and incorporate one of my own seascape images in the background.

For the first image, I envisaged having a baby sat in a valley of litter, holding a syringe. But photographing that amount of clutter is extremely difficult and I knew my styling and post production work would have to be perfect in order to guide the eye to the message. I did this through meticulous styling of the shot and precise post production work, burning, dodging and re-coloring, to guide your eye to the focus point and hold you in the picture.

Did you actually photograph the baby holding a real syringe?

There was no way we would risk the welfare of a baby so the needle was added during post production and the syringe was sterilized before the shoot. On top of that, to ensure the child’s safety and comfortability, the mother was just a few feet away with a clear path to the baby carefully hidden behind the debris.

What was the process behind the second image of a baby laying in an eye-shaped litter design?

We wanted an overhead shot to show the scale and quantity of the items collected. Again, I felt that including a baby would create a stronger message, playing on the concept of our future. Thinking about concepts that related to the future, health and what we choose to ignore, I decided on an eye.

I needed to study the human eye, examine dimensions, coloration and form. With my Hasselblad secured to the studio ceiling, we marked out an eye that was 5.6m in diameter and used the litter to create the pupil, iris, limbal ring and eyelid (the baby would be placed in the centre of the pupil to create the catchlight). Initially I hadn’t planned to create anything other than the eye, but it was Tim, our cameraman, who had the idea to create the eyelid using polystyrene, a form of litter that washed up regularly but that we hadn’t yet included in any of the shots.

What did you do with all the waste after the shoot?

Once the shoot was complete, all the items were sorted and sent for recycling.

Why did you use the Hasselblad H6D-100c for shooting this campaign?

The H6D-100c gives me a superior level of detail and tonal range and that was particularly valuable on a project like this with so much fine detail in the image.

The technical aspects of my Hasselblad are predominantly tonal range, detail and lens quality. This combined with the tethered shooting and high-resolution previews in Phocus software make it invaluable for my workflow. 

How will these images be used to raise awareness?

We worked on this for free as a charity project and made the images available to any relevant environmental organisations and scientists. To date, they have been used by Friends of the Earth, The Marine Conservation Society, Plastic Pollution Coalition, the National Oceanography Centre, Plastic Soup Foundation and many more as well as the video being viewed almost 1 million times on the BBC. Hopefully through further exposure, they will continue to educate and inform people about the problem.

ABOUT KARL TAYLOR

With over 25 years of photographic experience, Hasselblad Ambassador Karl Taylor is commissioned by leading global companies for his precise attention to detail and exquisite control of light. Having started his career in photojournalism, he is now known for shooting advertising, beauty and fashion. In addition, Karl works as a photography instructor and training consultant within various technical subjects. See more of his work here.

HASSELBLAD H6D-100C

For the photographer who demands nothing less than the best from their digital camera, we present the H6D-100c. Its large sensor offers an almost full field-of-view from our HC & HCD wide angle lenses and is capable of recording breathtaking detail, even in poor lighting conditions. 

Request a demo here

Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda

Expanding their Visual Universe with the 907X 50C

Drawing inspiration from Hasselblad’s long legacy, creative duo and Hasselblad Ambassadors Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda tried out the new 907X 50C to create imagery that celebrates some of Hasselblad’s most renowned features. Expanding on their own visual universe – including a cloning situation, blending in with a record player, and mapping out their own constellations – each of the photographs give a nod to the camera’s long-lasting build, classic design, and innovation behind the technology that also led to working with NASA.

Read more

Adam Weist

Adventuring Through the Subtropical Rainforests and Active Volcanoes of New Zealand

As the world turned upside down for many in March 2020, Los Angeles-based photographer Adam Weist found himself removed from it all on the other side of the world in the middle of New Zealand’s magical scenery. Shooting with the X1D II 50C in wild conditions ranging from the middle of a downpour in subtropical rainforests to a snowstorm on an active volcano, Adam’s images expose the beauty of the country and transport us to a landscape photographer’s dream.

Read more

Sven Baum

Cinematically Documenting Newborn Life with the XV Adapter

For almost a year, self-taught photojournalist Sven Baum has been documenting the life of his first newborn daughter, Romy. Steering away from posed, stiff baby portraits, Sven uses the X1D, various XCD lenses, and the XV Adapter with Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm and Distagon 50mm lenses and a 21mm extension tube to capture cinematically cut and color graded imagery that tells an honest story about growing.

Read more

Simon Norfolk’s Lost Capital

CAPTURING THE EMPTY STREETS OF LONDON AMIDST A PANDEMIC

Suddenly stripped of its usual hustle and bustle, cars and trucks, and the constant foot traffic of locals and tourists alike, Simon Norfolk unearthed a new side of London with the X1D II. Getting lost in the sharp lines and curves of the buildings that are usually concealed by the city’s hyperactivity, all its glorious architecture shone forth like never before. The only faces Simon met were those of the bronze sculptures of England’s past. The only sounds he heard in the normally busy Piccadilly Circus were the songs of blackbirds.

Read more

Digitally Reproducing Leonardo da Vinci’s Early Works in 3D Interactive Models with the Multi-Shot

Reproducing some of Leonardo da Vinci’s early sketches as digital versions, the Department of Architecture at the University of Bologna used the H6D-400c Multi-Shot in combination with their own developed software to create 3D models of these art pieces that are hundreds of years old.

Read more

Stephen Sweeney

Family Portraits in a Time of Lockdown

Living in London, freelance photographer Stephen Sweeney is used to rushing around the metropolitan city on shoots. Now, for over a month, he has been confined to his home. In lockdown with his four brothers and his parents, he keeps his creative juices afloat by capturing beautifully lit portraits of his six family members with X1D II 50C.

Read more

Pål Hansen

Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, and other Hollywood Faces on Hasselblad

Norwegian photographer Pål Hansen has photographed an immense list of actors, musicians, and other notable celebrities. With his reputation of making anyone feel at ease in front of his Hasselblad camera, Pål always comes away with a unique story of his own about how it is to photograph these star subjects.

Read more

Dominique Provost

Preserving Pedro de Mena’s 17th Century Sculptures

with the Multi-Shot

Using the Hasselblad Multi-Shot system, Dominique Provost had the opportunity to photograph Spanish baroque sculptor Pedro de Mena’s collection of six hyper-realistic 17th century sculptures. These photographs will be of monumental importance for art conservation, future restoration, digitalization, and if necessary, reproduction of these historical pieces.

Read more