Billie Rae is a pink-haired, picture-taking photographic technician at the University of Portsmouth. Her style and focus led me to work with her on issue 10 of Southsea Folk. Like everyone else, Lockdown 1 back in March 2020 had an effect on Billie. Having to stay home and lots of tragic personal incidents happening very close together made Billie turn to what she loves and does the best, photography.
Going through personal things especially in a pandemic where we can’t just meet up with our best friends and have a hug or pop over to our family’s house for some comfort means we have to cope in the best way we can, by doing things we love. Billie combined her need for exercise and to get out from the 4 walls at home with taking photos along the way.
Chatting to Billie she said, “Initially I wanted to take photos on my walk and didn’t want to take my camera equipment as it felt wrong being in a pandemic, I didn’t want to come across as someone working when I wasn’t. By taking just my phone and capturing photos of places that are familiar to me felt good and an outlet for the personal things going on in my life that were out of my control. As every day passed and I had taken more photos of places that I walked past every day for years I realised how much fun I was having and it wasn’t about any equipment I would usually haul around, it was just about my journey."
Having a play with the fact that Billie loves pink (hence the pink hair) ,and it was coincidentally colour of the year 2020, meant she wanted to include it somehow into her photos, that’s how ‘Pandemic Pink’ was born. Using infrared editing techniques meant Billie could highlight the fact that although the naked eye can’t pick up infrared light, the sensors in phones and digital cameras can! Billie saw that other photographers had used this technique and wanted to try it, taking the infrared technique, working on the editing, and stimulating the effect to make it pink really brought a new look and style that Billie loved.
Holding an exhibition in 2020 was something Billie had wanted to do. There was no plan with these photos to turn them into a special project but when she shared them with work colleagues on a Facebook group she realised that people really loved this work. Then friends and colleagues started asking her how much they could buy the photos for and so Billie felt that she could do something more with the shots taken around Southsea and Portsmouth.
Speaking about how the year panned out, Billie said it was weird how she had started the year wanting to achieve an exhibition but then ended it with a series of photos that were put into a published zine and ready for sale to the public. Billie reflected, saying, “I started out in lockdown walking, needing some positivity somehow and a way to explore how I was feeling and it turned into something more creative than what I initially expected. This really lifted me and it felt nice to think my work by the end of the year had maybe inspired other people to be creative or get their phones out on their walks and take pictures too. I really wanted to capture these everyday places but show how different they could look in a pandemic, in a crisis, or in a way we had never looked at them before."
You can buy the Pandemic Pink Series in a lovely designed self-published zine which includes 44 printed pages here and also by following the link on Billie’s Instagram.
Loving the style and the way the project has worked has inspired Billie to do more so look out for more projects, more photos, and of course more pink!