To celebrate World Photography Day 2021 we spoke to Ota Havlik, reablement worker at Orchard Grove, to find out more about his recent photography project.
In March 2021, Ota carried out an incredible black and white portrait photoshoot of guests at Orchard Grove to help lift people’s spirits during the pandemic.
Why did you decide to start this project, and what is the meaning behind it?
I had this project on my mind for a very long time as I've always been fascinated by portraits of people's faces. Each and every one tells a different story and offers a magic view through the person's eyes.
Under normal circumstances it would be quite difficult for a photographer to find enough volunteers for such an intimate project, but working at Orchard Grove finally gave me this unique opportunity. After I explained the idea of the project to my manager Johanet, she agreed, as long as all participants gave consent to be photographed.
The main idea behind the project was to print the portraits and display them at our unit, to show our present and future guests real faces of real people who came to our centre and successfully improved their condition.
When did you start the photoshoot and how long did it take?
I started the project in March 2021, and it took around three weeks in total. It was not an easy one for sure, as while I had a clear vision and intended results, I still needed to make sure I followed Government guidelines. Shooting took place partially in a makeshift studio in our gym - with the much appreciated help of Julie, one of our nurses who kindly provided me with portable studio lights - and partly in the guests' rooms.
Why did you choose black and white portrait photography for the project?
Shooting in black and white is the pinnacle of photography, and although it may seem a bit old fashioned, it's classic and has become more popular again in recent years.
It offers very little margin for mistakes, while still being the best way of capturing the intricate details of human faces. Coloured portraits can sometimes distract the viewers from the story behind each person’s face.
How did guests at Orchard Grove feel about being involved?
All of the guests who participated were very keen to sit for me as models after I explained the idea and ethos of the project. Some of the ladies showed their real "Hollywood actress-like" talent during the shooting, and the men kept their "distinguished gentleman" look on most occasions. More importantly though, it was a welcomed and much appreciated break during the ongoing pandemic, where there were few opportunities for activities.
Are you happy with the results?
After I took several dozen shots with each model, I spent many hours post-processing them so the final result would fulfil my vision and expectations. The results exceeded them hugely.
I printed selected photos on A4 photo quality paper and handed each participant their own copy. They were all very grateful and so were their families. Photos are currently being framed and will be on display at our unit very soon.
I still have several potential projects on my mind and hope to be able to realise them with the support of Brunelcare.
View the results of Ota’s photography project below:
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