Digital FeaturesDrevvikenJames Meakin
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Drevviken · James Meakin 1 / 1
Interview

INTERVIEW

James Meakin

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PHOTOGRAPHY James Meakin PRODUCTION Anders Lindeberg STYLING Alexandra Klar @ Bigoudi HAIR & MAKEUP Josie Martens @ Bigoudi using Chanel & Aveda PHOTO ASSISTANCE Chris MODEL Matilda @ Mikas Stockholm CAMERA
Leica SL with Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 f/2.8–4 ASPH.

Wild and natural, a lake landscape in Sweden served as the backdrop for “Drevviken”, James Meakin’s most recent photo series. Up-and-coming model Matilda shines with her unusual presence, and reveals an intuitive capacity to enter into a fascinating and emotional dialogue with nature.

Why did you travel to Sweden this time to photograph your story?
The stylist Alexandra decided to spend some time there over the summer, and I’ve been shooting regularly in Sweden in previous years, so I thought it was a perfect time to produce an editorial there. The landscape is so accessible and there is always an intriguing pool of models in town to work with. Something different. I produced four stories over that time.
My colleague Anders at North Productions was also keen on the production and had some great locations up his sleeve that he was willing to share. He provided invaluable support and access.

What kind of location did you choose and what was special about it?
We wanted a lake for this shoot – just a simple raw landscape. We were able to pick up some hints of autumn, while hoping to catch the Swedish heat wave and get into the water; however, we missed that by one week! It’s also just a local lake, because I wanted to represent what is actually in and around Stockholm, the everyday. The weather was actually pretty bad that day, so we revised the story to suit the circumstances.

What can you tell us about the model you chose on this occasion? You seem to have a certain sense in this regard?
There was something intriguing about the emotions her face conveyed, both before and during the shoot. She had real presence. It was just instinct that told us she had a particular charm; we were looking less for fashion kudos and more for personality and beauty. We loved her short hair and I think we got it right; she has the presence of an actress, a strong individual, but still a beauty actually with a rugged edge and sense of humor. I love all her scars from her horse riding incidents; apparently she’s an amazing rider!

Last time it was Jena Goldsack you photographed for S magazine, and shortly afterwards her career really took off. Is that right?
Jenna was a hot tip at the time. When the right people tell you this you know they are usually spot on. Casting is everything. Again, Jenna is a unique personality and has made it work, and I’m glad she’s doing so well.

What did you want to convey with the story?
I wanted to capture the connection between a person in a wild place and the nature that surrounds her and expresses a special feeling. For me the story is about that connection. "The human connection to nature" and the way exposure to the natural world makes us feel: what comes to our mind; how it changes our attitude/behaviour; how we escape.
We really sensed that in her mood and how it translated into images. And I also really wanted to capture her personality through it. Water and trees always have a special impact on humans. Perhaps her expression would have been different if we’d been in a desert or on a high mountain. Something to consider for next time….

Sometimes you photograph with the S, and sometimes with the SL; what do you consider the special features of each camera? And what are the differences that you appreciate in particular?
The S delivers medium format lens bokeh and shape, and is extremely filmic – an antidote to the commercial SLR feeling. The depth of field is very fine, allowing an authenticity and cinematic feel; and the skin tones are so beautiful out of camera, you barely have to grade them. I wanted a non-retouched set of images with real skin. The camera is one of the best for this. It is also very user friendly on location, in all kinds of weather, and has great portability.
The SL gives you the speed and agility for a different kind of shot, and the images seem to match quite well with the S. It’s also great in low light, and I still love having the ability to review what I’ve shot in the view finder as I’m shooting. It’s an interesting creative addition to the work flow. It also seems to film very nicely, with definitely the best zoom I’ve ever used without losing the film look.

So you chose the SL for “Drevviken” and also filmed a video with the it. Why did you use the camera rather than dedicated film equipment? Please tell us what the technical experience was like.
I actually managed to mount the SL on my Ziyhun Tech Crane 2 gimble; with the heavy zoom, it actually just about works. If I’m honest it was a bit of an experiment. The focusing was great. All I wanted was to pick up a few shots and bring them to life, and make some quick, 30sec previews, one of which is included in this set.
With a one man band approach to this shoot, a reduced kit that can double up makes a big difference; and I particularly wanted my film to feel like the stills – with the same lenses and tones. I think it worked and I’ll be doing it again!