One of our favourite things about LEAP has been seeing people who aren’t usually photographers embrace the idea and create amazing art by stretching themselves.
James Jirat Patradoon is best known for his murals and illustrations, so we were super excited to see him pick up the camera and get stuck in.
For the uninitiated, our friends at Canon created LEAP to help and challenge established and budding photographers by providing them with a brief every day for the month of September.
More than just throwing down the gauntlet on a daily basis, LEAP is all about community, encouraging anyone who is taking part to share their work to offer tips and inspiration to the everyone else taking part.
On day 13, James received the brief ‘Go Unnoticed’. We chatted with him about how the brief, how an app has changed his creative process, and the fun side of the supernatural.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the brief, Go Unnoticed?
“My thoughts immediately went to camouflage. Trying to take photos of things in like an urban environment that would go unnoticed.
“Then, gradually, I went a bit more abstract. And a bit more personal. And a bit more fictional.
“It’s something that I’ve lived with forever that I don’t really talk about that much, but when I grew up, I had a really superstitious mum.
“Mum would often tell me these stories that were just so matter-of-fact, and growing up with that kind of thing, fiction and reality tends to blend together, and that comes across in my work.
“So my thoughts eventually moved to spirits and things like that. And I wanted to find a way to capture that.”
How did you interpret Go Unnoticed?
“I wanted to present something that was hiding in plain sight. And so my interpretation of Go Unnoticed was to present the spiritual world. A tangent universe full of just ghosts. But I wanted to present that in a really playful way, because it was always presented to me in a playful way.”
Tell us the story behind your image?
“Initially I wanted to do one figure standing in the alley, this kind of unnoticed alley spirit – a spirit of the trash cans.
“But when I discovered I could do remote shooting on my phone, that opened up a whole new avenue. I realised I could do multiple, and do heaps of them, which is how I would usually imagine that to be. And so that was fun, because I could get different versions of myself in there.”
How did you get the shot?
“I used the Canon Camera Connect App, which allows you to see in real-time through the camera on your phone. So I could see everything it could see in real-time, like a live feed.
“With that, I managed to take multiple shots in different positions and combine them together.”
What were the next steps once you’d settled on spirits?
“I didn’t want to present it in any way that’s too serious. With my work in general, I like to keep it pretty playful. So I had this idea of just shooting these spirits that my mum would tell me about, where each place has these things, whether you can see them or not. I wanted to kind of go about capturing that, but in a really playful way.
“So I ended up using these masks I got from Japan, and in my travels, settling on one that fit the vibe really well, and just taking a multiple-exposure shot with that.
“So they’re kind of meant to be these little spirits – well, not little spirits, they’re the same size as me, but I’m kind of little – just in an alleyway.”
Did the photographic nature of this brief help your creative process?
“This brief helped with my creative process in the sense that I used to use a lot of photo reference initially, at the beginning of when I started doing illustration, and then I kind of stopped because it was really hard.
“With this brief especially, linking the camera up to the app just made the whole thing so much easier. You know, I could see myself in real time. I could move according to that, and I could extend the timer.
“So it looked like a lot of work but it was done pretty quickly. And if I didn’t have the app, I wouldn’t have bothered doing it.
“In regards to the process – taking the multiple exposures, having to put them back together – if this was five years ago, I wouldn’t have bothered doing it. So the app made the biggest difference.”
Was the brief challenging?
“This was challenging to what I usually do, because I don’t use photography like the way I did tonight. My process has kind of gone to being collage-y.
“I feel like it’s kind of come full circle now, where it’s something I’m definitely used to, but it’s been amplified by so much more because of the tech.”
“It also challenged my normal process because it’s a photographic brief and I’m used to just drawing everything. With drawing, you can shape reality however you want it, but with photographs you need to capture it in the camera. So that challenge was fun as well – like bringing props and trying to find a way to present the idea of having multiple spirits in this alleyway.
“And that turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.”
Would you have done something like this if you didn’t have the brief?
“The brief helped me make something that I probably wouldn’t have. Now that I know I can and how easy it is, it’s probably going to change the way I approach my future work.”
Did having a strong creative background help with your process?
“Having a creative background definitely helps, but I don’t think that you have to be a creative to take this on. It’s about being playful. It’s not serious. This is a very playful kind of brief.
“It was fun to execute and I think anyone can join in and do that as well. Anyone can come up with a joke. Anyone can come up with something playful. Anyone can get involved in this.”
Why should people get involved with LEAP?
“People should get involved with LEAP because it’s fun. It’s so easy to fall into your own routine, so you should find any excuse to have a little project, or break out of what you’re normally doing.
“LEAP helps you see things in a different way, like notice things that aren’t there.
“It’s just finding any excuse to bring fun and play back into creativity – which is a good way to shake things up.”