This particular project was of particular interest to me, as my grandfather served as a DEMS gunner during WWII and the subject itself is gritty and powerful. It was conceived in 1990 and took several years of planning before I was finally able to travel to Europe in the early spring of 1998.
The project’s main concept was that it was to be shot entirely on Black & White film (35mm), hand held & in natural light. I wanted to capture what I saw and felt as I wandered through these camps, knowing the atrocities and circumstances that had created them. I felt that film would be the ideal medium to provide the results I was after.
No amount of historic film or documentaries can honestly prepare you for stepping foot inside a Nazi Concentration Camp. I remember wondering “Where is it?!” as I drove up the hillside where it was hidden perfectly from the road.
Once outside the main gate, I was struck by the silence around me, no birds, no animals, just a deathly quiet.
Desolate, secretive, haunting…. chilling words cannot truly describe the gamut of emotions
This was repeated at every camp I visited, almost as if the atrocities that had occurred at each, had cast a pall over them, rendering them as silent memorials to the dead. Desolate, secretive, haunting, chilling words cannot truly describe the gamut of emotions that I experienced as I walked through and photographed each of these camps.
Perhaps the saddest day for me, was when I visited Buchenwald, near Weimar, on a bitterly cold spring day. As I stood in the grounds composing an image that would encompass the size of the Parade ground which looked back at the main gate, it began to rain.
The rain was apt & almost as if the dead were weeping
At that moment, despite being dressed warmly I was still freezing, I suddenly realised that the inmates would have been dressed in their striped, cotton uniforms. That they would have been even colder than I, with no respite from the cold, the horrors, certain death. The rain was apt & almost as if the dead were weeping.
I wish to return to Europe and continue with this project because it has much to teach us still. By capturing it on film, it is hoped that generations to come will be able to access the images, experience the emotions and remember the Holocaust similar to my experience.
About Nanette Reid
As a leading architectural photographer, I have worked in the photographic industry for over 20 years, throughout the UK, EU, USA, Asia and Australasia, specialising in contemporary architectural, interior and commercial images for the hospitality and architectural industries.
To keep myself inspired and creative, I often undertake personal projects. By setting myself the goal of telling a story through images, photo essays are an enjoyable way to shoot the world around me, without limitations of time or subject material.
These projects are approached slightly differently to the majority of my commercial assignments; namely they are shot “on the fly” meaning that other than deciding on the place/area/topic to be photographed, the rest of the assignment is shot as it happens.
Whilst the topics chosen may at times be difficult to comprehend, the final images are chosen to illustrate the subject matter in the way I perceived it and encourage the viewer to investigate further.
Contributor: All images used with permission for AFPS.blog by Nanette Reid