Photography is really exciting because you never know what the final images are going to look like. You have to put yourself in the process and collaborate with the person you’re shooting with. Oftentimes it’s a matter of experimentation and play, without fully understanding why we make the creative choices that we do in a given moment. But I’ve learned to trust the process and let my intuition guide me. After each shoot, I tell myself that if I have just 10 good photos, I’ll be satisfied. During the selection and editing process, I sometimes chance upon gems that were created without my full awareness at the time of shooting. The editing process brings out a deeper understanding of why I made certain decisions and that knowledge allows me to refine my work as I build on each previous shoot. It’s fascinating to discover this amorphous notion of my personal creativity becoming more defined and concrete with each shoot. It makes me think that creativity is half conscious and half subconscious and that the magic of discovery lies on the latter half. As you can tell from this chunk of text, I’ve been ruminating on the notion of creativity and how it applies to my work. I want to write more about my understanding of creativity to guide my work even more.
Had an awesome time shooting with Layson!
One thing I realized was just how much I love shooting on film. Shooting on film is so much more enjoyable, not just because of the aesthetic of the end product but because the shooting process feels more relaxed and less like work. Shooting digital feels like work - mechanized, high-pressure, moving quickly to the sound of shutter clicks, the machine-gun barrage of go, go, go. I think the implication of shooting digital is that the relationship between photographer and subject feels more professional and clinical, like there's a clear boundary.
On the other hand, shooting on film feels more intimate, like getting to know someone and not feeling rushed. You're more in tune with the slight movements of the subject because you have to focus and make sure the subject is posing in the most appropriate way. The collaboration feels less hurried and more natural. Knowing that you have a limited number of exposures forces you to slow down and frame each shot with purpose. I believe this slowing down puts the subject at ease and allows them to be more unforced in their poses and expressions.
FILM (KODAK PORTRA 400)
I'd been meaning to shoot in a studio for the longest time so when my friend Tom asked me if I wanted to shoot at Egg Studios in Bushwick, I jumped at the chance. (BTW - Egg Studios is a fantastic studio, if you're looking for a space to shoot in, look no further!)
To make the best of the space, I decided to turn the shoot into a mini-production. I'd been inspired by simple portraits that strongly feature complementary colors and put together a moodboard to drive production decisions. I was also fortunate enough to have a model (Kristin Ratcliffe), HMU artist (Lexi Doto) and assistant/friend/DJ (Anna Bouma) helping me in making this production a reality.
The first phase of photos were shot with 2 Profotos Acute 2 D4s attached to a battery pack - the key light was shot though a 36-inch Profoto Octabox while the fill light was shot against a white V-flat. I got bored after awhile with the too-even lighting and so killed the fill light Profoto and instead just used the V-flat to provide some fill. In hindsight, this wasn't the best idea because it muddied the shadows too much and it was difficult during the editing process to get the colors and shadows to be exactly what I wanted. Nonetheless, there were some shots in which the new lighting worked.
The final phase of photos were shot of film utilizing light coming in through the windows as the key light and the V-flats as fill light. I used a combination of Ektar 100 and Kodak Portra 400 film on my Canon A-1. While I usually love the cool tones of Ektar 100, I definitely pushed the ISO beyond its limit (I think I was shooting at ISO 400) and that created some dirty greenish shadows, which I could only correct to a certain degree in post. For one of my rolls, there was light leak, which initially concerned me but after I saw that it created a pretty interesting effect of creating a nice color combination of blue yellow and red. Now I'm wondering if I can load up film and shoot in a way to create intentional light leaks... haha we shall see.