Tuesday 31 May 2016

New haunts

Time for Specs to don his photography hat again. With a couple of stand-alone 'assignments' alongside my current longer-term project (the latest portraits for that featured in my recent post, 'Picture this'), I've been enjoying one of my busiest ever periods with the camera. I feel particularly lucky that as time has gone on, not only are my 'photo-army' of friends still happy to take part in front of the lens, but their collaborative input has increased. I love it when the models themselves come up with styles or locations - it puts me in different situations/modes - even realms, to some extent, and keeps me on my toes: more reacting, more creating, more improvising, and hopefully more improving.

Al and I had already talked about a number of things we wanted to try on our second session (the first is here). Since we're likely to link together photos from, say, three outings overall, we held over certain characteristics from the first shoot - one of the outfits, plus the use of a brutalist location. Al had already lined up a second dress, off-white, that would tone perfectly with most of the stone we encountered while countering it with a floral motif - and she also suggested making even more this time of the 'Hair'! We discussed the possibility of doing portraits that had an otherworldly feel, a sense of the eerie and off-kilter.

Even in the more 'normal' photos, I sometimes used some soft focus or muted colours to ensure that the image in the picture was never an exact match for what the eye might see alone.

We used a wooden post as a handy framing device - in tandem with Al's cascade of hair, it makes her facial expression difficult to read - as if just looking in on us?

I didn't want Al to be explicitly 'witchy', or alien, or a ghost. She's still wearing heels and a modern watch. However, I did want to convey a sense that she might not be all she seemed. Moving at times away from a brutalist location to more timeless backgrounds, we shot poses where she seemed to need contact with the structures, as if they were supplying some kind of energy...

(For the shot below, we couldn't help but think of the Japanese horror film 'Ring'. I also wanted that sense of slightly inhuman movement for the following shot - the leg just visible as well as the arm to give the idea she has to work her way around the location, drawing power from it, rather than just walking.)

Another theme was the use of doors, windows - or sometimes just apertures and wall markings - to suggest a transition from 'elsewhere'. The more surreal, the better - for example, the door in the shot below is well below Al's actual height...

...while here, in one of my favourite pictures from the whole day, I climbed up to get an unnaturally high vantage point and allow Al to seemingly emerge from the ground.

An obliging set of steps down into (or up from) the river gave us perhaps our strangest images. (Luckily, I don't think you can tell that a group of atmos-puncturing tourists were buzzing around us at the time, making a racket and taking pictures of me taking pictures of Al... I'd be interested to hear what they tell the folks back home when they get round to showing them those snaps!)

Finally, every shoot has its happy accidents: the next shot is a simple out-take - Al wasn't posing and I snapped it without thinking - while you can see how the elements came to our aid for the portrait below. Thanks to Al for her brilliant part in the proceedings.

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