- I'd had this idea for a while. To shoot a drifter, a junkie or a runaway through the city, overtaken with his dependencies. Just a series of portraits done in a photojournalistic matter. Something about solitude and distress. As I have no training in actual photojournalism, doubled by the fact that I don’t have any ties to the social workers who know the junkies and homeless, I was a bit at a loss to engage in a project like this, or even to make head or tails of how I would proceed.
On the side, I’d been wanting to find a joint project to do with my friend actress Mélanie Elliott, and funny enough, when I presented her with this idea, she was in the middle of researching that exact role for an audition. We booked a date and set out to shoot an impromptu session with no rules, no scenario and the one simple instruction: be the character and don’t pose for the camera. just act it out and I’ll follow. I’ll be the fly on the wall. She’d be that drifter going through the city, lost in her mind and her solitude, and I’d be there not far away, snapping the shots.
- Mélanie got into the rôle quite easily and I started to follow her around the neighbourhood we’d picked. Onlookers were a bit puzzled to watch the scene as she span around and made crazy gestures, with me clicking away. Young kids in a park found it really entertaining, and started to follow us. And as they got more and more curious, they also got bolder and started to ask questions and wanted to interact with Mélanie. So at one point, we decided to leave, telling the kids we were done for the day.
- But it was far from over. This is when Mélanie got into it and I shot non stop for about an hour, getting the most of the setting sun.
- We decided to take a break from the “acting”, as Mélanie had been at it for almost two hours at that point. She told me about an abandoned yard she’d passed by a few times, were the junkies of the neighbourhood hang around, near an industrial complex. She thought it would be a great place to push this a step further. The sun was setting down and we only had about an hour left of daylight. So we rushed to the spot and I really fell in love with the place. Especially when we found the train wagons and tracks.
- At this point of the shoot, it became more about solitude than dependency. Again Mélanie went ahead in this part of the shoot with a natural that showed her great talent and ease. We shot for about thirty minutes, where at this point we where shooting well into the blue hour and near to total darkness.
- We moved back to the streets of the neighbourhood and we did another series of photos on the more commercial street. Again shooting with ambient light, I used whatever was available.