Short documentaries are unique and naturally present individual stories on different levels; an invitation to learn about remarkable people who have experienced something or, spent time working on an area that could be considered memorable. Through researching into short pieces that surround master craftsmen and artisans, I was introduced to a television series entitled ‘Handmade’. Specifically, one series that focuses on items crafted for the Royal Family and those affluent enough to afford such items. There is a prestigious entitlement to owning once of these handcrafted pieces not only for the value, but for the originality and the fact that there are no other pieces exactly like that one.
A big influence for my project can be sourced in an episode that explored shoemakers and the craft-making process from start to finish (Handmade, John Lobb Shoes, 2016). At John Lobb, the process hasn’t really changed since the mid-19th century and the workers here refuse to adopt more modern methods. Apprentices are taken on so that these traditional skills can be passed on and not risk being forgotten or lost to the modern manufacturers. I was surprisingly drawn into this episode, mainly through the quirky nature of the store and it’s location right next to St. James Palace, where I’ve given tours on behalf of the Royal Family. The processes are so difficult and the fact that these workers are spendings hundreds of hours on tiny details for a pair of shoes is extraordinary. I also found inspiration on how to document the craft process itself, with a range of extreme, close up and mid to wide hots of the workshop area and the artisans working.
Here are some shots below as an example:
Through testing different lenses, I am confident that I could achieve similar shots with a 100mm macro, a 50mm lens and the functionality of a 24-105mm zoom lens. The lighting will be different in the space but in terms of framing the shots I have the means to do so. This episode inspired me to look into different prime lenses and what could be achieved with the use of different apertures and focal lengths. In terms of showcasing an artisan at work, ‘John Lobbs Shoes’ really helped influence my shot ideas and how to best present every movement. The workers represent age old traditions and a true working ethic. A small corner of London that many would have no idea existed, very similar to Mustapha’s workshop in Sefrou. Yes, Lobbs Shoe’ is far more established but the original shop remains untouched and as serving as more of a niche supplier, it’s not always the most visited. I’d like to be able to capture the story of a master craftsmen and show some of the processes involved as well as was showcased in this episode of the ‘Handmade’ series.
- Handmade. John Lobb Shoes. (2016) BBC4. Monday 13th June, 2016.