Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A strictly verbal, slightly exhistential post before more images come down the pipeline.

It has been a while since I've posted and I've been shooting lately so there will be many images to blog about shortly but I've been thinking (it's rare) lately, about photography, and need to articulate.

I've been crafty lately and have organized a space that has made for an amazing temporary photography studio. What made me seek out this facility was a makeup artist who contacted me. She wanted to shoot a series of bodypainting portfolio pieces. With each design taking 5 hours of makeup work, an hour or so to shoot, and with ten different designs/models to shoot, I was going to need a dedicated studio space. For those of you who are uninitiated, bodypainting involves painting and airbrushing onto a models bare skin so in the end they appear fully clothed. Scantily clad models + photography = guy photographers dream... Right?

Only problem was.... I hated bodypainting photography. Or at least, every photo of bodypainting I'd seen, was totally boring. Insert white backdrop, insert model, light everything, pose model, click. Boring. It's about displaying the 5 hours of makeup artistry, not the photography. So what did I do? I got a neutral gray backdrop, which you can light to be anything from white to black, shot some safe shots of the amazing bodypainting displays, and then improvised as many different lighting setups as possible before the models and I were too exhausted to go on. And it was amazing.

And I realized something.

All the photos I currently enjoy creating are dark.

And maybe one's artistic style says more about the creator than their conscious mind would care to admit. But that's a whole other conversation.

For me right now, it's all about shadow. Photographers essentially have two tools when lighting. Shadow, and highlights. Everything in between is the subject matter, is exposed appropriately, and is just documenting what exists in front of the camera. The use of shadow and highlights is how the photographer wraps that subject and presents it to the viewer. As a human, I've always been attracted to the shadow. It's the intrigue, the mystery, the thing that makes you lean in a litter closer for a better look. Its also where untapped and unknown potential lies. For a wannabe full-time shooting professional, that's the part I'm trying so hard to explore and bring into the light. Most of my favourite take away shots from these bodypainting shoots have been complete spur of the moment experiments, trying to test all the principles of light that I've read about. I'm sure ill grow out of this dark phase, or at least chill out a bit, but for now I'm really enjoying exploring the dark side.

In two weeks I leave for two months of travel through South East Asia. Ill be bringing along a camera, one flash, and one light modifier. I will be taking portraits of many I encounter, to try and tell a small part their story using portraiture. I'm extremely excited since personal projects are always the most fulfilling. I am taking these 2 months because I vowed to myself that I would always work to live, not the other way around. So every year I aim to take 1-2 months to travel and experience the world. Without that, this lifestyle we lead in North America, with all it's trappings, can serve to box one in mentally and you tend to see the world through a very narrow set of glasses. I notice it most when I come back home from travelling and spend time with my friends, and less and less the longer I've been home. That latter part is the part that scares me.

So I depart to explore part of the world. To paraphrase the editors of my favourite publication, National Geographic, the truth about exploring is that while it can be as close as your own back yard it can also be profoundly life affirming.

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