The Bigger Picture
I kicked off with my Gargoyle idea. I would call it a project but a project produces results. So for now I’m sticking with “concept” or “idea”, which leads to experimentation. If it works in my head, it works well enough.
I’ve been through the theory, so let’s consider practice. I’ll have to find models with a freakish lack of acrophobia (fear of heights, you peasant) and willingness to do my bidding. Not an easy combination. So far I have two people, one of which I’ve actually done some test shots with. More on that later.
It’s easy finding people willing to be photographed. What’s a lot more difficult, is to find the right people. They’ll have to work with me, and I can be a little awkward to work with. And since a photograph sadly doesn’t portray your beautiful personality, I need them to have the right appearance, too. It doesn’t mean they have to be good looking per se; what I’m looking for is an obvious elegance, fearlessness and some… spark, or such. A thoughtfulness. Gargoyles are by definition ugly, and with that comes a certain wisdom that transcends beauty. Perhaps I should just start looking for ugly models.
The city of Gent nears bittersweet perfection for a theme such as this. Its whole center is medieval, and has several towers breaking the horizon. The sad part is that such a city must be maintained, and cranes are fucking everywhere. It’s going to be really hard to close these out. Tourists get in the way, and people jump from towers making it politically rather difficult for us to go stand on the edge.
I might have to tune my Photoshop skills for this. I’ll be going to school now anyway, so why not.
Then, there’s the issue of safety. If there’s one thing bothering me, it’s that I’m basically asking these people to risk their lives for my hobby. I might pressure them to do things I will do, but they could be afraid to. Standing on ledges, balancing on things, all without the slightest safety. Not only can it get us both in trouble, but also the danger is actually there. A gust of wind or crumbling hold can have dire consequences that I don’t want on my conscience (not regarding the loss of their life).
Is it really worth it? This won’t make anyone any money and has no constructive value. Any danger whatsoever, is basically uncalled for and a good reason not to continue.
I took an acquaintance to the “duke’s castle” the other day to do some test shots, in order to explore the skyline, orientation and possibilities with different perspectives. Results are… adequate, because this is a first attempt. There are plenty of issues I am far from satisfied with, many of which I have myself to blame for. Lack of skill, for starters, but here’s a rundown:
– I need to watch the background more. The picture to the right here is spoiled because of the crane’s arse sticking out.
– I still don’t know my lens well enough. I actually thought the EXIF data (that stores your camera settings when the picture was taken) was off with one picture, because I didn’t realize my aperture can go smaller as I zoom in. Changes in contrast are drastic depending on settings such as these.
– I blame the nervousness of working with a model (first time, mind) for my lack of experimentation with perspective. I didn’t want to keep her in one place for too long so I rushed it, and it shows. Lots of things I could have done better.
– There’s things missing, that much is obvious. But that’s okay, this is nowhere near finished.
There are two things I want from this:
Satisfying creative output, meaning that I want it to look like I’ve been brooding it in my mind for about a year now;
And personal growth. I want to learn, as much as possible, as fast as possible. I think this is a good way to push my limits and see what I can produce. Some feedback from the nice folks on dpreview.com would help but they don’t seem too impressed by my style or subjects- I’m lucky to get one cryptic hint from a newcomer. That I already knew about.
Next step is more personal pictures, with poses and facial expressions. I may want to try that with someone I know a little better, but I have to say this one is rather addictive to work with.
The eventual plan is to have something ready around this time, next year. My dream is to have the freedom I need during the Ghent Festival, with huge crowds in the streets and holy shit, fireworks in the background. I think I might have to file in a formal request if I want that to happen. And I might.
I never gave much of a damn about things like copyright involving any of my work. I will steal others’ work as easily as I will hand out my own. My idea so far was that if we manage to turn it into one big artistic orgy, we’ll all walk away richer from it.
That’s because in the past, my inspiration never had any consequence whatsoever. I did it for myself and didn’t do much more than fuck around with it. Now that I am nearing the border of professional work with my latest photography projects, I’ve been forced to reconsider. So far I still do it for myself and whoever wants to have their picture taken, but I’ve been trespassing (one of the many reasons I picked up the name “Trespass Photography”) on territory that isn’t happy to have me there.
My father was so kind to send my co-ordinates to the organization of Polé Polé Festival, a local world music happening with several branches in the country. I’ll thank him for that when I have the chance, but I’m afraid I will also have to tell him to curb his enthusiasm just a little.
It’s not easy to get by as a professional photographer. The real reason, despite what anyone might tell you, is because photography is so damn easy. It’s hard to get it just right, but a walk in the park to learn the basics. As a result, any redneck with his hand in his pants and a reflex camera in the other can take “adequate” pictures. It’s a rare occasion when a real professional is needed, and Polé Polé is a good example. Now, if I were to walk in and provide “above average” (where I like to think I am positioned) pictures for little to no charge, I am effectively breaking the balls of all those other photographers who need the money to get by. By going under their price, I will in the long term, force them to ask less, with all due consequences. That in itself doesn’t need to be a thing I should be concerned with (ethical objections aside), but these people might be my colleagues one day, god willing. Slowly, it’s getting that time where I need to be careful about stealing other people’s property, time or money.
Another little issue I hadn’t been very worried about is the content of my pictures. The formula thus far was simple as pie: If I don’t want them known to the world, I don’t put them on fucking Facebook or whatever. Ta daa. You privacy freaks might want to consider that one.
I’ll photograph whatever the damn I like. Buildings, people, doesn’t matter; nobody gives a shit.
That all changes however, when you are permitted to photograph sensitive subjects in a trusted environment. Not just other people’s work that will spoil a bigger thing if blindly published, but also things concerning privacy.
I might be allowed to photograph people in the nude, in professional context. Actors. And I’m getting a little sensitive about it, possibly even more than they might ever be. Because hey, you don’t see me taking my clothes off, little wuss that I am.
It’s a big thing in itself to know that I will own these pictures, to begin with. I doubt I’d be allowed if they suspect I’m doing this for anything else than photography itself. From what I can remember, they don’t really get the point of it to begin with. Then, there’s the question of what I might do with them. There is a vast difference between having oneself tastefully displayed in the name of art to five hundred people, and having your lily white ass on display for five million perverts on the web.
I am aware of all this, and there are endless ways in between. I am even willing to let them have my memory card at the end of the day and have them select the pictures I can have.
Model exposing themselves, literally in this case but not necessarily always so, adds a whole new dimension to photography because suddenly, taste becomes a factor. What is artistically called for, and what isn’t? Although it’s not the first time that I cross this line, it is definitely the first time that I do so publicly. For the sake of the models, my credibility and self-respect, I’m going to do this slowly and right.