Sunday, November 7, 2010

Living Dead Girls/Fireflower

Living Dead Girls
"Living Dead Girls"

I'm always a little torn about photography at events. Generally speaking, if someone wants you to cover an event for them, they're looking for a narrative about the event, with a string of photos to back it up. The only concern is that the intersection between those photos and the ones I like is often small. You know, if you're shooting a wedding, there is, 'picture of the bride and groom, posing', vs. 'banshee streaks through time and space to grab flowers in a fit of madness'. Not that you can't take amazing photos that do both things, but it's a lot to hang on a photo. And since I do this for fun (or at least, to satisfy some obsession to solve a creative problem), I can get pretty bored with the latter.

The first photo in today's post, "Living Dead Girls", is a good portrait. I gave it some nice light with a flash with a lumiquest diffuser in my left hand, and I got two people who were clearly characters, dressed to the hilt for the Day of the Dead. There's even a little bit of ennu in the girl on the right (though realistically, probably mid-blink), and some sadness on the girl on the left. Love the texture of the gloves, and the implied intimacy between the two. Most of my friends following my stream on Flickr loved this shot. To me, it's not interesting enough, since ... hmm.. it's the shot I *expected* when I saw of the two of them together. I see the limitations everywhere -- the bare few seconds I had to pose them before the parade started, the sledgehammer of a single flash with a medium-sized box on it and tied to a wire. I would be happy if it showed up on the front of the Day of the Dead website -- but it's still not my pick.


The second image, "Fireflower", is way more what I was after, even though it's less technically perfect. It captures the mood of walking through the streets with candles and other flames way more. The little flare kind of splits the image along a diagonal. The guy's expression? Perfect. Bits & pieces of a Volkswagen, with some gas flame? If you knew nothing about the tendency of people in SF to be precious, you might almost believe this guy is part of some Bohemian street procession, or just another local madman. And the light is alive with character -- it traces out edges, it has shadows, and it casts his face with the tone of the evening.

I'm not sure what to conclude from this. Well, except maybe the most obvious, which is the next time there's a parade at night, I totally would rather carry around a giant flaming torch with me than a flash. ;)

I guess just I'm interested in my reaction to both of these images. One of them is one that I more definitely made, with posing, more control of the light, etc., and it just seems lesser to me than the other, which is one I feel like I definitely found. Maybe it speaks to a lack of experience and imagination on my part as a portraitist, but I think it's probably something a little deeper about the way I view photography.

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