Remarkable. Surreal. Dark. Mystical. Rebecca Bathory’s photography evokes all of these descriptions. a London-based, fine art photographer, Rebecca specializes in her own beautiful brand of moody imagery. She was chosen by Professional Photography Magazine as Professional Photographer of the Year in 2009, and selected as runner-up for the medium format category in 2014 for one of her Mamiya Leaf images.
A tireless artist who makes the time to travel and pursue her passions, Rebecca has worked on her cultural memory projects since 2012. That includes visiting more than 300 abandoned buildings in 20 countries.
Rebecca is always expanding her quest to find beauty in darkness, and plans to visit 30 countries, work on more book projects — and complete her PhD in Visual Anthropology in the months and years ahead. As we mentioned earlier…remarkable!
ProTactic is Rebecca’s current Lowepro bag series of choice, so we wanted to know how it works for her, the crew and while seeking out abandoned places.
You’ve carried a lot of Lowepro bags in recent years, what is it about the design and functionality of ProTactic that makes it your go-to bag?
I love the ProTactic. It’s by far the best camera bag I have ever used. To start, its size fits my Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 (a beast of a camera) and lenses. It’s an expensive set-up and needs protection. When I am climbing over and under fences and through broken windows and up and down walls, I need something strong that will protect my equipment. It has a hard top, which not only provides more storage for accessories, it add so much protection. I fully trust the bag to look after what is in it.
It’s also super-comfy to wear, with padding that is easy on the shoulders and with extra straps around the waist and chest. It distributes the weight so a pathetic girl, carrying a beast of a camera for hours and hours around abandoned spaces, can manage the load.
There is great access to equipment in the bag. With the unique flipside design, I can wear the strap around my waist and access my camera without taking the bag off. There are also side zips that open to allow access to equipment.
Another fantastic feature I like is the outer webbing. I can carry water, my tripod and pouches for extra lenses by attaching them to the webbing straps.
I do a lot of travelling and the bag is small enough to carry as hand luggage, which is essential for me. Also, the all-weather cover has saved me a number of times when caught in the rain.
Did I say I love this bag? Seriously, when I previously looked for bags, there was always one thing that each didn’t meet, but this ticks all the boxes and is perfect for using while taking my abandoned building shots all around the world.
How many folks make up your typical crew and how do you keep an affable and professional camaraderie in place?
The crew I go with always numbers four or fewer. This is because we travel in a car on road trips to different countries, and we share the costs of petrol, accommodation, etc. We don’t like to travel with a larger crew than this to eliminate the risk of getting caught, as we don’t want to bring attention to ourselves inside the buildings.
When inside the buildings, we act professional, with care for our surroundings. We work together and like detectives to get inside without breaking and entering, which is a challenge. But as we don’t harm buildings, this is important. Inside it normally turns quite serious; we are there to get the best possible photos and so we do this in silence. We don’t want to get caught, so we go unnoticed, taking photos and then leaving as soon as we have captured them.
We spend hours and hours driving to get to places and this is normally when we start to have a bit of fun. We joke and laugh and get excited about the places we are going to. Its funny though, when we actually get inside, it becomes all about capturing photos and the atmosphere is a lot more series. When we have photographed the spaces, we will sometimes take a group shot. It’s nice to have those memories of the adventures we go on. When the day is over we are often very tired. We make the most of the time on road trips, so we arrive at the first location before sunrise and shoot and travel in the car until the sun goes down. We normally end with food and a well-deserved drink before just a couple of hours sleep, and doing it all again the next day.
What might we find in your ProTactic backpack for travel to, let’s say a more dodgy shooting scenario?
I shoot with Mamiya 645DF+ body & Leaf Credo 80 Digital Back, Schneider Kreuznach 28mm f4.5 LS lens, or Schneider Kreuznach 80mm f2.8 LS lens, and I use a 3-legged tripod called Frank.
It’s always a risk taking expensive camera equipment to these places, so I insure my gear. There is the risk of running into dodgy people and things like dust. And climbing a lot is a bit scary, but I feel my equipment is safe inside the ProTactic. I want to use the best system for my work as I am creating images for print both in books and as large-format, high quality prints—so leaving this system at home because I am in dodgy places isn’t an option.
What location is next for you and what excites you about it?
Ha-ha. Wow, 2016 is set to be the most hectic of my life. I have been planning it throughout 2015 and I have a new book commission, from the publisher of my previous book, Soviet Ghosts. It will be called Dark Tourism – The Beauty of Death.
I am moving out of my flat in January, putting my things in storage, and traveling to more than 20 countries around Asia, Europe and the USA to capture sites associated with death and tragedy. I will be taking nothing but my ProTactic and Pro Roller, and will only be stopping back in the UK for the odd week or two. I’m so excited about creating these images. It has been a dream for me to do a round-the-world trip, and I can’t wait for what my eyes and camera will see.