Getting this close to the business end of a gun is usually not a good thing. The Point Blank Project, from Toronto-based photographer Peter Andrew and creative directors Simon Duffy and Derek Blais, is a series of images of guns that aims to eventually capture 100 different pistols in extreme, in-your-face detail.
The trio wanted to work on a project together and landed on the idea of guns, but decided to approach it in a new way. "There’s a lot of photography of guns out there," said Blais. "We started talking about guns as these kind of powerful figures, and then we started linking them to portraits of presidents, CEOs, people in the world who are very powerful. We thought, what if we shot guns the same way you might shoot portraits of a person: head on, point blank?"
After finding a local shop that hooks up East Coast-filmmakers with guns for movies, the group learned that some of the guns they stocked were real. "For movies that have closeup shots of pistols, something like a Quentin Tarantino film, they have real guns on site," says Blais. They decided to take closeups themselves. Though they weren’t allowed to take the guns off-site, they set up a makeshift photo studio in the company’s vault, and started with classics like the Beretta and the Desert Eagle.
Each photo is composed of 20 to 40 individual shots, to ensure that every detail of the gun is clear. "We wanted to have the entire pistol in full focus—nice and crisp so you could see all the little imperfections, the little scrapes where the machine initially created the barrel," Blais said.
Their first test print was 4 feet by 8 feet. "It was overwhelming," Blais says. "We thought, ‘This is crazy, we’ve never seen guns this big before." Four of the photos are up on display now at a Toronto store, and a gallery show is coming soon. "When you’re standing in that room and have four giant guns pointed at you, it’s pretty crazy. Some people were actually uncomfortable," Blais said.
The photos aren’t intended as a political statement. "We’re interested in guns like any kind of guy is where it’s like you watch spy movies, and Bond, and Steve McQueen," Blais said. "But we just kind of wanted to study them in kind of a scientific way. It did spark a lot of really interesting conversations around the pieces. When we’d be standing next a big 4-by-8 print and people would say ‘You’re glamorizing these things,’ we’d say, ‘We’re actually just studying them."
On the other end of the spectrum, they've also had the opposite reaction. "People say ‘Wow, this is crazy—I’m so glad not everyone has a firearm. They’re scary at this scale, and it helps exemplify that.’ We say, if that’s your interpretation, that’s totally cool."