The key word for my photography style has always been: candid. I never take pictures of subjects posing for me, I never shoot portraits. The only exceptions are my cats (great models) and my sleepy girlfriend in pyjamas when I want to try a new lens.
That’s why street photography has been my passion since I started being an amateur photographer, a little over two years ago: walking down the streets and doing my best to be as invisible as possible, to be able to catch a meaningful moment without the subject realising it. Sometimes I’m lucky and I get a nice shot, sometimes I end up going back home with a substantial number of shots but not a single one worth saving.
For my very first holiday after the pandemic, I felt I wanted to try something different: leave the frenzy of the urban life behind and dive into the tranquillity only remote places can offer. I opted for a trip to the Northern Island of Scotland: Orkney and Shetland.
My girlfriend (luckily not sleepy anymore and not wearing pyjamas) planned carefully the where, what, when and how, and I took care of the photographic gear.
I thought a film camera was the perfect match for the slow pace of the islands, so I packed the following: Hasselblad 503CXi + 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar CF T*, Minolta Digital Spotmeter F, Peak Design Travel Tripod, Cable release and lots of 120 Kodak Portra 800.
The first leg of the trip was spent in Orkney: the archipelago has about 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited. We couldn’t miss the small but wonderful island of Westray (be careful, the correct pronunciation is Westree) and check out the home of the world’s shortest flight, a journey that lasts only 90 seconds, literally!
We disembarked the ferry from Kirkwall and drove towards the village of Pierowall, the largest settlement of the island: we are talking about a total population of less than 600 people.
We stumbled across a very colourful scarecrow, carefully dressed, and holding a fishing pole: not scary at all honestly, but smiling and welcoming.
I had to take a portrait of that piece of art, so we stopped the car, and noticed a second scarecrow just round the corner: a ladylike mannequin, wearing a hand knitted cardigan and again smiling to us.
On the way to our B&B we found another three, all different between each other but so very well-finished: I knew right then Westray would be my treasure island, and those friendly scarecrows my holiday photographic project.
It was just so easy, yet so satisfying, shoot portraits of someone that can’t talk or move, but makes you feel at home.
Little did I know the scarecrows had been manufactured by the families of the island with the aim to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institutions: a charity that provides a 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service, run by volunteers, and funded by voluntary donations.
I’m proud to present Haystack Heroes project: a collection of sixteen pictures to pay my tributes to the RNLI and thank the beautiful people we met during those days.
Should you wish to buy the photozine, you can check it out on Etsy.