Claire Maxfield - An Unkindness of Ravens
Introducing the work of Claire Maxfield’s - An Unkindness of Ravens. An ongoing project to which she has been contributing to over the course of the past 12 years. Telling the story of her life through photographs to explore subjects of a darker nature. Claire tells us more about the project and what her photographic work means to her.
Fleur and Arbor: How has the project developed over the 12 years you have been creating images?
Claire Maxfield: The 12 years is significant in that it is the timeline of the archive of images that were taken. At the beginning of this time, I found myself in a situation that my mind could not process and the photographs became my way of connecting back with reality.
I was a 6th form photography teacher and always had a camera with me and would just photograph anything, often without thought, just needing to record something.
It wasn’t until I started to study the MFA in photography that I realised that I wanted to make sense of that time and those images. I began to sort, file, and scan the negatives, and at this point the text was also developing. It was a very slow process of a reveal, rather than the process of making a project.
Once I had a more organised archive I printed contact sheets from which I began to select images. I was also (and still am) always taking photographs to add to this selection, revisiting places and memories.
F&A: Can you tell us about your process for making each image?
CM: I select images based on a gut reaction to them, I don’t worry too much about the technical correctness of an image. It’s often the unexpected that appeals to me. Maybe an accidental double exposure, or a colour cast, or something very out of focus.
F&A: What camera/s do you use and why?
CM: I’m all about using film, and analogue cameras. All my images are film, several formats; 35mm 6x4.5, 6x6 to 6x7. I’m also not a very organised photographer so I’ve always tended to use whichever camera is loaded and ready; I don’t go out with the intention of using transparency for example, I will just use whatever is in the camera that I’ve picked up.
I try and have a range of film at home (out of date film purchases from ebay are a favourite and enable me to work quite cheaply). I have a small black and white darkroom, and I also process my colour films at home now. My favourite cameras are my Mamiya 7 and Nikon FM2, but I also have and use a Holga, Bronica, Canon F5 and a Konica S2 rangefinder. All have prime lenses, 80mm for the medium formats and 45mm, 50mm or 35mm for the 35mm cameras.
F&A: What does photography mean for you?
CM: Photography is a huge part of my life. It’s been my work, my hobby, my therapy. I’m inspired by the science, the creativity the surprises and the motivation that I feel when I head out with a camera and then process and print the results.