There is nothing like the explosion of creative energy that happens in Tasmania in the dark of winter. That’s why LARK asked five of the island’s most original photographers how their creativity ignites when the lights go out. Given the brief “Follow the Amber Glow”, our photographers set out to capture DARK LARK, our most elusive single malt whisky.
If you’ve been out on the town in Hobart, there’s a strong chance you’ve admired, explored, or even tasted, one of photographer Jesse Hunniford’s subjects. The artist is known for his prolific career shooting the island’s most notorious artworks, social events, and eateries, including as senior photographer for MONA museum. But capturing all of this creative chaos doesn’t stop Jesse from making a bit of his own. When we asked Jesse to share a creative vision of DARK LARK through his lens, he dreamed up a photographic experiment that celebrates risk and uncertainty. We caught up with Jesse by the bonfire at his DARK LARK photoshoot, where we poured a dram of whisky for ourselves and a dram for the developing tray.
LARK: Jesse, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
JESSE: I am originally from up on the Sunshine Coast, and I moved to lutruwita / Tasmania when I was young. I’ve been here forever and absolutely love it here. I’ve been a photographer for 13 years, and I shoot every possible thing you can think of.
LARK: So what started you behind the lens?
JESSE: Good story, actually. Weirdly enough, I was about 18 or 19 at the time. I had a mate pass away, and I started doing far too many things. I really fucked my body up and ended up in hospital. But I have a beautiful auntie, who's also an artist, a painter based on the West Coast in Queenstown. She gave me a camera and basically told me to focus my energies on what was kind of causing me all this pain. And so, I shifted my focus, from partying to sort of photographing the people partying, and all the people in my life. It really kind of saved me in a sense.
Then I started a production company up north with my best mate Scott. We were shooting a lot of skateboarding, and then I started working all over the place, and ended up at MONA, and now here I am. I get bored pretty easily with one thing, so I jump about and work on a lot of different things! I love working with people, everyone loves a story, so that’s my go-to.
LARK: How have you chosen to capture DARK LARK?
JESSE: So with this brief, I started with the idea that I wanted to abstract it as much as possible, and really start to create more of a piece of art as opposed to a standard product shot.
And so I thought, what is the best way to do that? I’ve got this film, and I've got all this whiskey, this beautiful, expensive whiskey. What if I don't drink it, but just pour it all over the film, use a whisky soup as emulsion and see what comes of that?
LARK: What do you think will happen when you develop film stock with LARK whisky?
JESSE: I am shooting with a bunch of different film, a bunch of different ISOs: 100, 200, 400, 800. That's as high as it goes. They're all different thicknesses, they're all different qualities to them. Some are super thin; some are really chunky and gritty. Basically, I thought it'd be nice to kind of have that beautiful glow, like a warm winter's night, hitting that emulsion and trying to capture something a bit more abstract as opposed to clear cut.
This whiskey is starting to mess with the emulsion to the point where it starts to crystallize a little bit. The longer you leave it, the more decayed the film gets.
Basically, I'm creating a solid image and then destroying it with whiskey. And that, to me, is a beautiful process. If I get something out of it, I'm really happy.
But I don't know. Chance. Chaos. I’m basically leaving it all up to chance. There is a solid chance that none of these images are actually going to come out, which is really scary.
But also, if just one comes out, I'm going to be so pumped.
Jesse’s fearless experimentation produced some truly one-of-a-kind images that show whisky like you’ve never seen it before. If you’re in Hobart, check out Jesse’s Follow The Amber Glow series of photos at The Still from June 6th, or find his work at http://jessehunniford.com.