Donald Michael Chambers
60 Minutes of Silence
No talking. No phones. No distractions. For 60 minutes, Donald Michael Chambers sat with each of his 30 subjects in complete silence in his Copenhagen-based studio, letting them interpret the time as they wanted. Once the hour began, Donald gave no direction and simply decided when to click the shutter button, using both the 907X 50C and H6D-100c. Inspired by the isolation of recent quarantine periods, Donald’s portrait series 60 Minutes explores themes of isolation, mental health and disconnection while simultaneously delving into popular identity, representation and control of public persona.
All based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 30 subjects chosen represent a wide variety of the population, varying in age, gender, race and sexual orientation. And every one of them had to sit in total quiet for an hour across from Donald. With this project, he wanted to explore the question, “Where would they 'go' when surrounded by silence?” In our busy day and age filled with distractions, this is not something we usually get to investigate. “The dynamics of the shoot made it unlike any I’d done before. It really rang home the intimate exchange that exists between a sitter and the photographer,” says Donald.
INTERPLAY OF TONES AND MOODS
With his usual aesthetics, the set was kept clean and simple with minimal information about the subjects given so as to not influence the viewer’s experience and interpretation of the images. Drawn to strong colors and the interplay between tones and moods portrayed, Donald chose a select set of background colors for this shoot. “There was no particular code to who was paired to which colour. That could have been down to the sitter's energy when they came into the studio, my mood on the day, or simply what the person was wearing,” he says.
The H6D-100C is just a beautiful beast of a machine - easy to use, reliable and freakishly sharp. For this series I knew I wanted to keep it as natural as possible. The dynamic ranges and natural colour systems of Hasselblad helped to enable that.
When I thought about shooting this series, from the get-go I had the 907X in mind. I have long since been a fan of a waist finder setup. And to have a beautiful modern take on an old classic is incredibly satisfactory. There's just a different on-set dynamic when you have a compact waist level camera. The size and setup of the camera facilitates an unobtrusive exchange between the subject and the sitter. Perfect for a series like this. I was not surprised that most emotionally engaged sitting for this series happened when the 907X was the camera on set.
The 907X handles beautifully. The buttons just feel right where they are positioned, the screen is responsive and reliable when moving focus points, and the icon-based menu setup is a dream to use, especially if you're dyslexic like I am.
ABOUT DONALD MICHAEL CHAMBERS
Editorial and commercial portrait photographer Donald Michael Bowie Chambers originally hails from Trinidad and Tobago, spent his teens in Jamaica, studied his undergrad in international relations in the US and finally did a master’s in communications in the UK. Most recently he called London home for the last 15 years before moving to the Danish capital of Copenhagen. People have always been the focus of his work, which is grounded in the belief that in our own individual journeys and stories, there is commonality and relatability. See more of his work here or @donaldmichaelchambers.
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