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Learn the importance of having fun and experimenting with an Annual 2021 Photography winner | #AnnualSpotlight

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The Annual 2021 winners have been revealed, with some of the most exciting professionals in the history of Creativepool. Who are these amazing people and why do they represent the best of the best in the realm of creativity?

Rob Luckins is one of the top ranked photographers on Creativepool (constantly battling for first place with Jonathan Knowles and Ken Gerhardt, in fact) and his work truly shows. His pictures are always so impregnated with human authenticity and emotivity, with an excellent eye for composition and visual storytelling. Rob is a talented professional; which is why we were not suprised to see that his groundbreaking Study in Lycanthropy won a Bronze in this year's Annual 2021.

In this Annual 2021 Spotlight, we are learning more about Rob Luckins and his impressive award-winning project.

View The Annual 2021 Winners!

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What do you think impressed the judges about this project?

I’m not sure how to answer this, other than to say that I hope it stood out as a dramatic set of images, and that it posed more questions than it answered.

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

This was a self set project, so there was no brief, other than the initial concept.

For years I had this great Frankenstein book, in which the author took the story and created an illustrated diary written by Victor Frankenstein. The book featured all of these intense anatomical sketches purportedly done by the doctor himself, that got more frenetic as you made your way through the book. That idea of creating a false history for a story really stuck with me, and that’s what I wanted to create with this series, an ambiguous record perhaps found in a drawer somewhere, created by a scientist in an unspecified time at the turn of the century, documenting a lycanthropic transformation taking place. The story of the wolf man has always interested me, as there are also records of a rare psychiatric affliction in which patients believe that they can turn into an animal. 

All of the images were shot using a 5x4 inch wood and brass large format camera. I’ve had the camera for a long time and never grow old of using it. It has one button to trigger the shutter, and that’s as complicated as it gets. To focus you place a dark cloth over your head and move the front lens standard back and forth and it really is more like painting than photography. The image that you see on the ground glass screen is upside down and back to front, making it easier to compose the shot. The iso of the paper is extremely low, at around iso 3, so you really have to throw every light you have onto the subject. It can be pretty blinding when the strobes go off. 

Using this process was the right choice, because the final prints have this great depth and textural quality to them that I have never been able to get from digital. When they were processed and scanned I left all of the dust and scratches on them to add to the ageing and degradation in a bid to sell the idea that they had been re-discovered after many years. 

This year’s winners are a testament to the power of creativity in hardship. How did Covid restrictions influence your winning projects and how did you approach these new challenges?

I think covid has affected how we all approach our work. Not to mention how things are conducted on set, but it has defineitely affected how I approach my work, as I feel I was stuck in a rut before covid, and having the time to reassess my work has, I hope made me work more creatively. 

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What’s the main message of the project and why does it matter?

Not that it was necessarily intended, but when I showed a friend the images, she remarked that they reflected how a lot of people were feeling at this point in time. 

What is one unique aspect of the project?

The images were shot using a large format camera, using direct positive paper, which is similar to the paper that was at one time loaded into black and white photo booths. 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

The project was a fairly quick turn around. We shot it at my home studio and then the images were hand processed in a make shift darkroom at home. 

What advice would you share with other agencies and individuals looking to grab an award?

Don’t overlook the importance of having fun and experimenting. 

What is your most exciting project in the next year?

I have 2 that I'm looking forward to. I am working with the creative minds behind Century 21 films, who have been reigniting the world of Supermarionation through their tv show Nebula 75, and will be shooting a series of portraits with them. I’m also working with an illustrator who I have been a fan of for a long time. For the shoot I'm creating a scale model set of a Japanese city, which I will be photographing him in. I’ve always been a big fan of Japanese tokusatsu monster movies and Thunderbirds so i’m really looking forward to both shoots.

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Will you enter again in 2022? If so, what are your hopes?

Of course! It would be amazing to get closer to a gold, but there’s some great competition on here. 

How do you plan to display your award?

I will display it proudly on my desk in my office. 

Credit list for the campaign?

I would like to thank my subject Joe Rainbow for pushing himself physically for the photos and for being up for working on my crazy idea, and my friend and assistant Matt De Tisi for helping out on the shoot.

Make sure to connect with Rob on his Creativepool profile!

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