”The RPS have a commitment to supporting and nurturing emerging photographic talent, and I have experienced first hand the way in which they implement these ambitions.“Anastasia Taylor-Lind
The Joan Wakelin Bursary was instituted in 2005 in memory of Joan Wakelin FRPS, a legacy from whom funds the Bursary. Run by The Society in association with The Guardian, it is awarded for a proposal for a social documentary essay on an overseas issue, and went in 2009 to Anastasia Taylor-Lind, to document the Cossack resurgence in Caucasus Russia and Crimean Ukraine.
Now living in Beirut, Lebanon, the winner of the 2009 Joan Wakelin Bursary, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, has been based in the Middle East for the last year, and balances a mix of commissioned assignments with self-initiated long term projects “I have never been commissioned to shoot a project for more than 20 days”, she says, “so when it comes to making stories that take more time, support from bursaries, such as the Joan Wakelin, is one of the few ways to get financial backing. This is the second award I have received from The Society, and also the second from The Guardian, so it is fair to say that both institutions have been instrumental in supporting my work over the last four years, for which I am extremely grateful.”
Largely shot in the Middle East, Taylor-Lind’s current work often deals with post-conflict issues. However, she is also working on a much longer-term project, looking at young women living in close communities around the world. Images she shot at the Belaya Kalitva Cossack Cadet School for her Wakelin Bursary winning project, will eventually form part of that story too.
“I loved living with the Cossacks, and had the most amazing experience photographing in Russia”, she says, “I am certain I will work there in the future. I am researching several projects, including one in that part of the world, which I hope to start in the next few months.”
Taylor-Lind’s projects are generally portrait-led. She shoots almost exclusively on 6x6 film, using her Bronica medium format SLR. “I love the quality that film gives”, she says, “as well as the square format, and the way that using a waist level viewfinder changes the way you interact with your subject. Coupled with a handheld meter, it slows the whole process down, and forces you to be more quiet and considered. This way of working really lends itself to portrait photography.”
These days, working with film presents more of a challenge in post production than does digital. “It’s time consuming, requires specialist equipment and services, and is more expensive”, says Taylor-Lind.
Shooting on film has presented a particular challenge since she relocated to the Middle East. “There are no professional labs, film stockists or scanning services there”, she says, “so I regularly fly back to Europe to buy, process and scan film.”
But it’s getting harder everywhere. On a recent trip to the UK, Taylor-Lind couldn’t find a shop that had bulk quantities of her favourite Kodak film in stock. “The harder it gets and the more challenges I face, the more determined I become”, she says.
Taylor-Lind owns a 35mm format DSLR, and uses it to shoot assignments, particularly when she has to deliver images quickly, and also in her own work when she feels 35mm format is suitable. But she has been commissioned to shoot three features specifically on film in the past year, and says, “In this age of crazy digital photography and unethical image manipulation, editors respect and value the craft more than ever.” (RPS Journal, September 2010)