Ingrid, the Ireland Portfolio (2016)
To celebrate thirty years of photography, I spent two weeks of 2016 working with a model in the haunting ruins and rich landscapes of Ireland. From the images made during this time, I selected twelve to create Ingrid, the Ireland portfolio. At the heart of the portfolio is Ingrid, who I've worked with since 1998. Her passion for modelling nude is unrivaled, and she's helped me create some of my most iconic photographs of the past 18 years. The Photo Diary for this project can be found here.
Ingrid, the Ireland Portfolio was created with the support of a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter; I am forever grateful for the support of everyone who backed the campaign and helped me create such a strong collection of images.
Ingrid, the Ireland Portfolio is made up of twelve 7"x10" archival Epson Ultrachome HDR prints on Epson Exhibition Fiber paper, each presented in an 11"x14" acid-free mat and enclosed as a group within an archival portfolio box. The Portfolio is limited to an edition of 17, including one model and one artist copy.
As Ingrid and I worked in Kilcooley abbey, I was in seventh heaven; the light was stunning, the setting was captivating, and Ingrid and I were clearly drawing upon the eighteen years that we have worked together. Choosing where to work was the only challenge, but one obvious location was a beautiful tomb near the East Window. I showed Ingrid the pose I had in mind, and after making that image, Ingrid experimented with a couple of other poses, but none was as striking as the first.
The final set of images made at the Glen were amongst the most dramatic. As day shifted into early evening, the sun had moved low enough to rake across the sheer limestone walls that defined the Glen. Dusted with trailing ivy, the northern wall provided a perfect space for Ingrid to work in, with the soft evening sunlight falling across her body in an almost theatrical manner.
Made at the very end of our session at Clontuskert Abbey (and on the day that marked the 18th anniversary of our first session working together), this was the last image added to the Ireland portfolio. I was initially hesitant to include it as the figure in the image is so small compared to the setting, but in the end, the majesty of the setting, and the grace of Ingrid's pose won me over.
The greatest challenge of working at Castlegrove was deciding what to work with; as I have said with other locations, Ingrid and I could have worked all day, or even for multiple days, within the ruins, and still not scratch the surface of the location’s potential. As the fallen stone columns had been one of the reasons I wished to find the location, I suggested Ingrid pose upon one of the plinths, echoing the origin ancient fallen stones that lay around it.
Saying the trees on the Burren are wind-swept is an understatement - this Hawthorne in particular was easily 20’ from side to side. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted an image of Ingrid lying within its boughs. After a quick weight test, I asked Ingrid to climb up into it, and arch out into the branches that reached out across the moorland. By this session, Ingrid and I have worked in Ireland for ten days, but this is only the second image that I knew with certainly was a success.
I expected that much of my time at Ross Errilly with Ingrid would be spent working with the cloisters. The weather directed otherwise, however, with constant drizzle forcing us to leave the cloisters until the end of the session Even then, it was challenging to find sections of the quadrangle dry enough to work with. in the end, Ingrid posing within one specific arch way, exploring the potential of the century old space.
Ever since my 2008 trip to Scotland, I have known ancient sites resonate with me. When researching this project, I identified a number of prehistoric tombs that might work for Ingrid and I. Thought it's in an open field, Parknabinnia Wedge tomb was remote enough to work. Ingrid and I moved relatively quickly (given the cool temperature), but our years of working together paid off, with a number of strong poses combining with dramatic views of this ancient tomb with strong poses.
The Rock of Dunamase is a massive rock outcrop, over 45 metres in height, with a ruined castle perched upon it, dominating the surrounding landscape. Ingrid and I create eight separate images of her on a rock-wall outcrop, overlooking the Irish landscape, with the evening sky behind her. This image, with Ingrid leaning back as the light from the evening sky hits her torso, has the perfect balance, and even some nice lines in the landscape, complimenting the composition.
When we arrived at Lackeen Castle, Ingrid and I set up on the top floor. An east-facing window had some wonderfully worn stone, and served as the first location. I started with my go-to default - placing the window centred in the composition, with a formal, architectural approach to the space. Having worked through that approach, I shifted the camera to a more acute angle, and suggested a post that create a more dynamic body line, while still interacting with the window.
The final set of images created at Murrooghtoohy North, and indeed of the 2016 Ireland portfolio, were if Ingrid posing on the pavement that flowed from the Burren down to the ocean. A challenging environment to work in, I had to constantly balance the scale of Ingrid within the frame against including as much of the surroundings as possible...and just as we began to hit our stride, it started to rain, bringing to an end the session, and the photography portion of the project.
The last set of images Ingrid and I made within Moyne Abbey were set in a dimly lit room to the side of the cloisters; I just loved the dramatic lighting in the room, and combined with an ultra wide lens, the sense of space and mood was just sunning. Ingrid and I made dozens of exposures of a handful of poses in this room, taking as many as 10 of a pose, to ensure we had at least one without motion blur (with standing poses, an exposure of 1/6th of a second is challenging to hold still).
Earlier this day, Ingrid and I had worked at Twelve Pines, but the lighting was less than ideal. As it happened however, we had to drive past the location on our way home, just as the sun was setting. So, for the second, and last time on the trip, Ingrid and I returned to a space we’d already worked in, and swiftly, by the last light of the sun, as it simultaneously slipped behind clouds and mountains. And it was SO worth the short delay in returning home!