• Maria Pearce

Sleepy Robot - The Return of the Robot


Outside the Black Box

Back by popular demand this week were the fantastic duo from Llanelli who work under the Sleepy Robot persona. They promised us that this time their presentation would be looking behind the scenes to give us an insight into what goes into producing a body of work.

Since delighting us with their photography last year Mr & Mrs Dai Brown had sadly just reached their demise and they were working on turning a garage into studio space. They confirmed that Mr & Mrs Dai Brown were no more, and that they had completed their conversion, meaning that they now had a dedicated studio space enabling them to change their whole approach to their photography and were able to in the main keep it away from their home.

They were still adopting the ethos of using materials freely available to them to create images and props - for example raiding charity shops for junk and sourcing material/items that would otherwise be thrown away, hence keeping their outgoings to a minimum. So along with loads of gaffer tape and glue they also used lots of bubble wrap, chicken wire, florist tape and ribbons (much better than having to clone out string). Their studio lighting ranged from professional lighting to using a speed light in a vintage standard lamp. They also stress that they don’t always use the best camera or the fastest lens - their work is all about setting the scene and using the right props to tell their story. The props are extremely important and are used to build the scene - they can completely change the dynamic of an image. They also try to recycle their props so you will probably see them reappear time and again in images but they will have been tweaked in some way, for example the parachute dress had bones added, bones taken away, wire added and seams taken apart to suit the different models wearing it or the locations of the shoot.

One of their most recent bodies of work is their Romeo & Juliet story. They wanted to do another story in photographs using themselves as models (knowing that it is a huge commitment to enlist other individuals in such time consuming work). However, their faces were so well known as Mr & Mrs Dai Brown they had to come up with a way to disguise themselves. Hence they used Poly Masks. These are made by downloading .pdf templates building up the 3D mask (not as easy as the websites state). They used a rabbit mask for Romeo and a fox for Juliet and also managed to enlist a family member to play the “baddy”, Juliet’s father. They produced a complete story board of the whole photo shoot, but did confess that as it was so well planned and they knew exactly what photograph they were going to shoot each time it did take some of the fun and spontaneity out of it. Although they did admit that trying to prepare for and take the image was extremely challenging when wearing a mask that you could neither see out of or which blocked their ears.

Another series Jen had created was “One Man - An exploration of one man and his grasp on reality”, using idioms as the basis for her ideas. Steve was her model and as mentioned previously she needed to hide his identity hence she created some interesting head gear to help with this.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to see all of their current work due to time constraints, but anyone wanting to find out more check out their website http://www.sleepyrobotphotography.co.uk

I’m sure like before we all found both Jen and Steve to be inspirational either in their use of props, composition, ideas or technical skills and they most definitely did not disappoint.

Next week is our 2nd round print competition. Remember to bring menu choices for the Christmas party at Excel Bowls on the 20th


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