These Images Are Your Sleepy Friday Night, Cinematically Reconstructed

For his latest project, award-winning photographer Nicky Hamilton has reconstructed, from scratch, the honest and relatable feeling of waiting. In his series entitled Take Me Away, Nicky embodies the emotions we feel when we can sense the passing of time. From capturing the discontent of young kids to tired mums, the visual representation of boredom is all too familiar.

Nicky’s approach to photography is highly cinematic. Bringing set-design to photographer, Nicky designs and builds elaborate scenes in order to create images of extraordinary detail and emotion, such as he did in this series. He plays with the idea of performance and symbolism in order explore the human experience.

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We caught up with the photographer to hear about the design process and inspiration for this series.

THE PLUS: How did the idea come about for this series?
Nicky Hamilton:
I was driving home from work late one night and I passed a Chinese take away. The owner was sitting behind the counter watching the television and just waiting for business. This visually and emotionally struck me, the lonely act of waiting and how we choose to use that time.

TP: Do you get takeaways often?
Every Friday or post an evening with alcohol!

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TP: What kinds of emotional states would you say the people you photographed there were in? Were they all in a similar state or was there a variety?
First I toyed with the idea to shoot on location but I really wanted the ability to shoot on a longer lens and to have a more cinematic lighting approach, the shop was perfect but it was very small so I decided to build a replica of the shop as a set in my studio which would allow me to take out walls and shoot from afar, covering every angle of the shop. It took me around 4 weeks to build the set.

TP: Was it totally candid or did you direct your subjects?
During the production I visited the real shop regularly to cast and to take notes of natural moments that occurred. This research was invaluable for the reportage feel that I was after. Often when shooting the best work came from when the model was having a break on set, a good example of this can be seen with the boy in the Rugby kit leaning over his phone who was patiently waiting for the smoke to clear, using this spare moment to check his social media.

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TP: What is it about a filmic quality in photography that helps us empathise with people?
It feels honest and relatable, rough around the edges and composed with lightening to emphasis an emotion, that’s what I take from a cinematic approach. There’s a gloss to a lot of photography which certainly works for selling but with fine art story telling we can sway away from the commercial look.

TP: Do you think photography can reveal inner-states of the psyche?
It’s extremely difficult to portray but ultimately that’s the goal. I tend to spend an hour or two with the subject discussing the intention, shooting tests and trying to find what feels like my interpretation of the mood or idea, often adapting as we go. It’s a similar method of working between a director and an actor.

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TP: What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not taking photographs?
Family time.

TP: What have you got lined up for your next series?
I’m currently producing a series on Mental Health awareness. I’m a few shots in and I’m really enjoying it. I’m also working on producing my first short film which I’m really excited about.

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