Portraits of Isolation

Photos & Text by Lucie Walmsley

Graphic & Media Design (Year 3)

During isolation, on my own in Thessaloniki, I did a self-portrait series depicting my internal struggle, as I had to face my thoughts in isolation; experimenting with long exposures in dark red lighting to communicate the resurfacing of past trauma. The surrounding is depicting the reflection that I was faced with on a daily bases and could not escape from. My movement in the images is to show the different sides of myself that came out during this uneasy time, before the lockdown I could easily just dive head first into partying and socialising as a form of escapism. This escapism is a key theme throughout all my work, I usually photograph people partying on nights out, becoming a voyeur, this series turns the lens on myself and what emotions and troubles I was suppressing. The nudity in the photographs is to show how I was stripped and in my most vulnerable state during the height of the pandemic and the red lighting to show how initially fearful I was to face these thoughts and emotions.

This series was photographed in manual mode using a 10 second timer whilst my camera was on a tripod using ISO 200 35mm film. Experimenting with shutter speeds between 8 and 30 seconds. I was new to using this camera so was getting a general light reading from a light meter app on my phone.

Before the lockdown I started a long exposure night time photography series, being draw to the bright and trashy shop fronts across the city. Having the contrast between the dark sky and the artificial yellow street lights or neon shop lighting. Although I shot these before lockdown, the emptiness and lack of any ‘life’ in the pictures resonated with my feelings when I was shooting the self portraits and the colours and saturation seem to sit well together as well. This series was photographed using a tripod, shutter release cable and light meter app on my phone. This work is mainly just trial and error and I try to take two shots with a different amount of exposure time and the same aperture (bracketing). Taken on my manual 35mm film camera with apertures setting between f16 and f22 and shutter speed between 8-30 seconds. When the lockdown was relaxed I continued to go out in the evenings and shoot. 

I chose to shoot on exclusively film due to the vibrancy of the colours and grain; I also love the surprise element, as you have to wait to get to the developers to see the shots. The cost of the film and processing also means I pay more attention to each shot compared to shooting on digital where you can shoot as many as the SD card can hold.

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