BBC Heart and Soul
This insightful half hour radio program explores aspects of spirituality, religious faith and beliefs.
Cara Mair, Funeral Director
This week Heart and Soul features Cara Mair, who founded Arka Original Funerals in Brighton. Her approach to saying goodbye to loved ones is very different to that prescribed by many of the less flexible, corporate firms of funeral directors. The BBC chose to use a portrait of Cara taken by Toby Smedley for its online programs and schedules, promoting the episode.
You can listen to this episode of Heart and Soul on BBC iPlayer at Giving death back to the people.
To find previous episodes of Heart and Soul, click here.
This portrait of Cara was taken at Clayton Wood Natural Burial Ground in Sussex. It is one of a series on local undertakers originally commissioned by Viva Lewes Magazine. The other portraits in the series were of Grace Gasson of Cooper and Sons, Richard Green of Richard Green Funeral Services and Kevin Mancer- Bailey of Lewes Funeral Care.
Ideas and approach
What I set out to achieve was a set of portraits that complimented each other and shared similarities, so creating a balance. I also wanted them to each convey a sense of importance and occasion as well as dignity, empathy and understanding.
Then there were the elements of history, tradition and time to consider. My approach was to use exterior scenes for the backgrounds. Naturally, I chose environments and landscapes in which the individual funeral directors would normally work. These included cemeteries, church yards and driveways.
To add more interest to each portrait and engage the viewer, the subjects were positioned to be looking to camera in quite a formal way. Each person was photographed at a different time of day and in differing weather conditions. More by accident than design, these turned out to be extreme cold, high winds, sunshine and rain. This all added to the gravity of each of the portraits.
All the portraits were shot using remote off camera flash and given the same treatment and film effects in post production.
For more examples of my portrait photography click here