Some photoshoots are fun, some are stressful, some are for learning from mistakes and some are for teaching. Some are formational, and a very rare few are those which you know — even mid-work — there will be a “before” and “after” against which everything else is created.
Both times I’ve worked solo with Kathleen Hahn of idodances.com and Danceclub Asheville have been those last types. Her ability to communicate not just through dance but in the dialogue before and after a piece is unique and I’m all the better a photographer for it. Our first session was a time lapse of sorts, her dancing in various places and combining them in postproduction. The representative piece of that session is “Tennis Courts”.
This session, indoors at her studio in Asheville, was entirely different. We were looking for individual moments where Kathleen was moving much less deliberately, with quicker movements but with more communication between us. It was also a session where she was using a pole, which surfaced a number of layers to the work.
As a male photographer, it’s easy to be in the position of power in a photoshoot. Ooften the photography studio is intimidating itself, and one is working with a subject who cannot easily stop and say “show me what you have so far”. There are often discrepancies in vulnerabilities and also the inherent problem of “male gaze” that must be addressed in every shoot. Put all of the above together alongside a session in a dance studio where a main impetus is to reclaim all dance forms from patriarchy (if not too strong a phrase here) and impart confidence, my emotions were all over the place. “Should I be here with my camera? Should I be here at all? What is my role, what is Kathleen’s role? Why can I do this with Kathleen as a friend, and is that different than a professional? Can I publish these? Should I even consider selling prints of these?”
Fortunately, Kathleen was more than up for the conversation before, during, and after the shoot. And just as before, I came away a little wiser and grateful for all those I encounter in my photography.
I had worked with Boneyard Clothing in early 2012, and loved everything they did. When another opportunity came up in May 2012, I was thrilled for a studio shoot.
It was lots of fun with a variety of looks among three models, and I was excited to get BYC the work. I slipped the memory card in my bag and went home to process the photos. And at home, I opened the bag and looked for the card. And looked, and looked, and looked. And panicked. I had never physically lost a card before (and haven’t since), and wasn’t really sure what to do. I did the only thing I could do — call BYC, apologize, and accept that I had let them down.
Until this past week.
As I was digging around in a long-repurposed bag for something else, I felt what could be a memory card. Lo and behold, there was a little sleeve inside a zippered pocket. When examined, it was the lost card! I was greatly relieved to get the session back (although two years late) and was surprised at how much my style has changed, at least in what I was taking for the majority of the shots. Although my personal favorite picks from that session are still (roughly) in line with what I would shoot today, I liked seeing a little bit of progression here and there.
My sentimentality gauge is pretty unbalanced with this work, as I believed for years that it was completely gone. The rediscovery of these images has been a great boon, not least of which for the freedom that I see in the work. There are many elements in much of the rest of the series that I would be sure to clean up now in the studio rather than in post, and even in the above I see a few bits that I would try and adjust in the moment. But isn’t that a little bit of what makes nostalgia nostalgic? That we can’t go back and relive the past, but we can at least learn and laugh a little at the experience?
Thanks to Boneyard Clothing for setting up the shoot, and Justin of The Go Devils for being the model in the above photograph.
I worked with Brittany as part of my Back series in 2011. She modeled for a couple of sessions, in digital and film.
I recently found the instant film set and rescanned the work. I’m still blown away by the tonality of the “print” in these scans. Using the FP-3000b offers a high speed experience that is really unique, and I hope to continue using the media for a long long time.
This photo is (probably) my favorite from my Rotten series.
In this series I photographed food that would otherwise have been discarded. I produced this work as a play on the traditional still life and a reflection of my own habits.
I became frustrated with the amount of waste leaving my own home. At the same time I was enamored with colors and textures that appeared when food, especially fruit, was left to rot.
By taking lighting cues from the Old Masters and utilizing broken, dried, molded or otherwise unappetizing provisions as subject matter, I juxtaposed some of our traditional presentations of edible beauty with our waste.
This work also speaks to the luxury of my ability to consider the scrapping of food when a great many communities cannot. Our continued refinement of food production enables us to have greater control over appearances until it reaches our home, but afterwards we easily discard that which develops an unpleasant appearance. Even if the food maintains quality, we will quickly dispose of that which looks unappealing. Granted, some of the elements used in this work were literally disgusting, but much of the material could have been eaten or otherwise reused without ill effect.
With this work I explore concepts of what is appealing, succulent and edible while exploring my own standards of that which sustains. This work ventures to bring the focus back to ordinary decay and natural cycles. With the desire for cleaner, newer, brighter, shinier or clearer substance we readily discard that which is still — or even more — beautiful once left to natureâ€™s own processes