Dirty Laundry #7: Photo Process

Last week I decided to test all my lenses – the nikons against the canons and the zooms against the primes. The Nikons tend to be bluer and have a softening along the edge that I think really comes out in this series. In general, shooting today was interesting. Of all the people who’ve posed for me I know A the least so it was a different dynamic. We were also lighting a fire on a fall day in Stuytown so I was afraid that at any minute someone would ask us to stop or worse.

As a result the somewhat awkward feeling of asking someone to pose and then basically ignoring them as I seek out the shots was amplified. I keep thinking that I need to give the models direction as I shoot but it’s hard for me to speak when I’m trying to look through the lens. With #1 and #6 it was a bit easier because the models became absorbed in the ransom letter and chalk door respectively so I didn’t have to worry so much about leading them- I could just search for the shot. For #3, Juliet didn’t really have a choice but to sit there quietly and since it was my sister I didn’t feel shy about taking up her time. Today, once we got into actually burning the letter I felt like things moved more naturally- A asked me a few times about the action and I encouraged him to just follow what felt natural and as he moved I moved around him. I’d been very indecisive about whether to shoot A at night or during the day. I felt like his features could look really interesting with low/contrasty light, but the second row of photographs have all been daylight exteriors so in the end I decided to stick with that theme. I was worried that the light would be too flat because the day was very hazy and it was past half 3 by the time we got started, but as it turned out the white paper popped against the dark shadows and softness of the diffused light combined with the softening effect of the Nikon lenses ended up looking quite attractive. It was really hard to choose photo #1 and I was torn between the photo that I used for the thumbnail and this shot from above On the one hand I thought it might add another perspective for Viccy to write from in the same way seeing the donkey in through the window did for #2 but I was afraid that it was a little redundant after using an above shot for the #6 thumbnail. In the end I think I was attracted to the drama that the angle and the darkness creates also there seemed to be too much emphasis on the letters and with the silhouetted version the white letters are muted. I’d had a decent amount of time to think about this one but as I was driving home after I couldn’t help but wonder if there wasn’t enough happening here- if it was too plain. In Viccy’s last post she wrote that having less happening had given her room to write creatively and that had been playing on my mind. Also I think I was hesitant to dress up or undress A though I’m sure he’d have been amenable (to the former if not that latter). I think that working with one person doing one action I struggle to make the pictures seem to tell a cohesive story without being redundant. For Series #5 I tried to branch out with the car photo which I thought could introduce another possible perspective but in the end I don’t really like how it looks. So, striking the balance between continuity and diversity seems to be one of the main challenges of this project… …ooh this has just given me an idea of how I can experiment with this but I’ll have to save it for another post… All in all I’m pleased with how this set has come out. Work has been incredibly demanding lately which has had a direct effect on my ability to prep for DL but I’m hoping that as things slow down for the winter I can get back to more elaborate or fanciful design. For the last four I’d also like to go back to dark/night images and work more with dramatic lighting. see photographs and stories at cargocollective.com/dirtylaundry