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Portfolio: John Carder Bush


I started photographing my sister Kate in my early twenties, when she was eight. We used soft, afternoon light, clothes from jumble sales as costumes, props from anything we could find, and we took the photos in the atmospheric, shadowy corners of the old farm in Kent where we lived.

We used a Fuji half-frame camera, which meant you could get twice as many shots from a single roll of film than on a normal 35mm camera, and most of the exposure and aperture settings were pure guesswork. Kate's ability to empathise with the mood I was trying to create was remarkable for someone so young.

Of course, neither of us had any idea of what lay ahead 10 years later, although in hindsight, I think it's possible to see the emergence of someone unusual, beautiful and able to project even in these early photos. Personally, I see a summer's afternoon: she has just got back from school, is tired and probably hungry, but is happy to pose for her brother in outfits that are usually too big for her. I see my little sister Cathy, and I remember the fun we had making the photos together.

A few months ago, in contrast to those distant childhood sessions, I was photographing Kate with studio lights, digital camera, computer, with make-up artists, hair artists, and clothes artists, for photos to be used for the release of [her albums] Director's Cut and 50 Words for Snow. As I composed the frame and focused on those unchanged eyes, I experienced just the same feeling as I did when she was eight. I realised that I'm still looking for the same person I saw all those years ago, before I release the shutter and, wonderfully, I still find her. John Carder Bush

Carder Bush's novel, 'The Cellar Gang', is available from johncarderbush.com