Photographer and feminist Sophie Elliott took her Petzval 85 Art Lens out to a demonstration on the streets of Norwich and managed to capture the mood of the local community.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a feminist and activist, and I run a magazine in my spare time which is called Parallel. I generally exhibit and portray my opinions and politics through my photography – or at least I try to. I’ve been shooting since I was about 15 (I’m currently 24!) and graduated from university a few years ago with a degree in photography. I mainly shoot people, whether that’s posed portraits, candid shots, or events like protests and demos. I also work as a copywriter for a photographic retailer! I’m pretty much surrounded by cameras and photographic talk every day – my boyfriend is a photographer too.
How do you find shooting with the Petzval?
I love it! I was dying to get my hands on the Petzval 85 as soon as I heard about the Kickstarter, but I only just managed to get one this year. Since I got it, I’ve been shooting with it constantly: it’s always in my camera bag. I just love how creative you can get with it, and how well it works for portraiture. It is tricky finding the sweet spot though! Getting the focus right can also be a bit of a challenge sometimes. But other than that, I love it and it’s my favourite lens. The weight of it is great with my camera, and it’s certainly a conversation starter when people spot a solid brass lens sticking out of your camera!
What did you choose to shoot?
I shot a pro-EU anti-Brexit rally in my city which was called “Norwich Stays”. We were the only city across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex to vote “remain” in the EU Referendum so a lot of people wanted their voices to be heard. I love shooting demonstrations and protests as there is so much to photograph: the crowd en masse, individual protesters, interesting signs, and the speakers if there are any. I originally wasn’t going to take the Petzval as I wasn’t taking much kit with me, but decided at the last minute to bring it – and I’m really glad I did! I managed to get some really nice portraits of the protesters, and also pick out some of the more interesting signs in the crowd. I also got to play with using it at a focus point further away than I usually would, meaning that the swirly bokeh effect was present in the foreground instead of the background.
What’s coming up in 2016?
Lots more photographing! As well as running my magazine Parallel, I also do a lot of the photography for it – we’ve got two more issues due out this year. As well as that, I’m hoping to attend a lot more protests and demos, to not only show my support for the causes but also document and photograph the events and the people who attend. Additionally, I’ve got a few weddings coming up in the next couple of months that I’m shooting. So I’m definitely going to be busy!