2017 Project: Tarot

This year I’ve decided to start a long-term project, one that will take a while to complete and may, at the end, have a physical product come out of it. I’ve been thinking around this theme for a while, inspired by card sets and series, art from games and musings on spirituality.

Tarot cards originate from mid-15th century Europe, possibly Italy. They were originally used to play card games, but have since been incorporated into divination as well. The Tarot has four suits (usually cups, wands, coins and swords) just like a normal pack of playing cards – from one (or Ace) to ten, and with a Jack, Knight, Queen and King. These are often called the “pips”, or in occult decks, the Minor Arcana. There will also be 21 trump cards (or Major Arcana) – the ones we all recognise, such as The Lovers, Death, The Hanged Man etc.


There are plenty of modern takes on tarot decks, but I’ve not seen many photographic attempts. Contemporary Magic was a deck put together by modern photographers and artists, including Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs, but each artist only contributed one card, so I’m expecting this to take a while.


In total, there are 78 cards in a modern tarot deck – which is a hell of a lot of photos! My plan is to utilise the many rolls of Agfa Vista 200 35mm film I have left (often referred to as the Poundland Film), souped at home in black and white chemicals. This will allow me to keep costs down while I am experimenting, and will also allow me more control over the developing process. Vista can be pushed (I’m told) to 1600 ISO without too many problems, and with a stand developing technique rather than the “normal” 1:6 ratio, it *should* be relatively stress-free.

The camera I intend to use will be the Olympus XA4 – easily-pocketable, with a sharp lens, and perfect for street photography as it can be zone-focused and placed on a table for candid shots. I intend to shoot most of the subjects at night, depending on how well my initial tests with pushing Vista and stand developing, turn out to be.


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