Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shooting Outside My Box

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There are boxes and there are boxes. The term, "shooting outside the box," is so vague it tells people virtually nothing about whatever it is you're shooting. Plus, as terms go, it's more than a bit cliché. It's like those words I find equally vague, cliché, and non-descriptive. Words I've had clients direct me with. Words like edgy and edgy-ness.

Saying you're shooting "inside the box" may actually tell people more about what you're shooting than saying you're shooting "outside the box," assuming those people have a clue about your standard box and it's photographic dimensions. Here's a personal example: If  I say. "I'm shooting inside my box," many people, those who know my work, will likely expect to see a young, pretty, sexy model in the pics. Often, one who's wearing very little if anything at all. A photo like the one below left I snapped of Penthouse Pet, Tori Black, almost... Yikes! Almost 5 years ago!

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Just because you have a box that represents your box, your comfort zone, it doesn't mean your box is *the* box, i.e., some overall photography "box." There is no box. There's only your box. It doesn't matter if your box is a genre, a style, whatever. It's your box. You own it. And when you or I shoot outside our boxes, we're simply doing just that: shooting outside our own, personal boxes... not some bigger box. Some magic box. Some vague, undetermined, unlimited box. The boxes we shoot within are self-created. Inside one photographer's box may be outside many other photographers' boxes and vice versa. Capiche? Even if a so-called "box" exists -- which I don't believe one does -- it's a way bigger box than most shooters might think it is. Way, way bigger!

This past week, I headed out with my friend, Diana, to shoot some outside *my box* photos. I'm a people photographer. So far, my box does not include genres like landscape, street, product, architectural, abstract photography and more. That might change but, at this point, those genres aren't part of my box. So, from the perspective of my shoot with Diana being a people photography shoot, it was well within my box. But that's about the only aspect of it that was within my normal and customary box.

Even as a people photographer, my box doesn't include more than a few types or genres of people photography. But that's what I wanted to shoot with Diana-- that is, some pics that are outside my box.

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Some of you might be thinking, "Damn, Jimmy! How can you get bored or tired shooting all those beautiful, sexy, models wearing little to nothing?"  Trust me. You can. I can. I have. But it's not so much that I'm bored with doing so. It simply represents more of the same. It represents that which I know how to do better than I know how to do any other sort of photography. Still, I love shooting those models. They still get my photographic heart beating faster. But it's not creatively fulfilling or rewarding in an overall sort of way. Not any longer. Not for some time now. Shooting pretty girls is totally within my box. I don't dislike my box. It's a fairly cool box as boxes go. Sometimes, though, a photographer needs to shoot outside the box... outside his or her own box, regardless of how cool or enviable or anything else their box may or may not be.

I had already scouted a location for shooting some "outside my box" photos. I knew Diana would be more than simply a model or a voice-activated prop.  Diana's a new friend in my life. I only met her a few weeks ago. Obviously, I don't know her well. But what I already do know about her is that she's a team player and that she's a proactive, creative, collaborator when she's "into" something. (Which is exactly what I wanted her to be and exactly what she was, leading up to our shoot, and what she continued being during it.)

Diana and I are already planning another shoot. We're again going to juxtapose some wardrobe and props (different wardrobe and props for our next shoot) in an environment where they aren't ordinarily seen or don't seem to blend in expected ways.  Same for the emotional and/or story context of the pics. I'll likely continue shooting them with wide-ish focal lengths, making use of the Rule of Thirds as well as negative space because I like it. I don't often have opportunities (or the leeway) to shoot that way for most of my "inside my box" photos. Who knows, maybe I can even find a way to throw in some symmetry or asymmetry?  Maybe a few leading lines in there as well? I love adding those sorts of compositional elements to my pics.

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The photo at the top of this update was shot with all natural light. I snapped it with my Canon "nifty-fifty" prime on my 5Dc. ISO 100, f/2.3, 250th.  Simple monochrome conversion with CS3's B&W tool. I also accentuated the textures a bit in post and added the vignetting.

The second photo (upper right) was captured with my Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime shooting almost directly into the Golden Hour sun. The lens was struggling a bit to focus and I lost a number of shots to soft focus.  I blame myself, not the glass, for not paying closer attention. Again, the image utilizes all natural light, not even a reflector.  ISO 100, f/1.8 (wide open) 125th.

The third image above is another from my shoot with Diana. For this one, I also used my nifty-fifty prime, but added a bare-bulb 300ws monolight for some fill.  A few moments after this shot was snapped, a big gust of wind blew up and there went my stand and the monolight. The flash-tube went "Humpty Dumpty" on me and the monobloc itself is not firing, altho it's still powering up. As such, a repair might not be that big of a deal. I'll find out if that's true when I take it to a repair shop... which I'm not in that big of a hurry to do. I have other monolights, enough to shoot most anything I ordinarily shoot.

Next time out with Diana, I'm going with small flash instruments for whatever artificial lighting I might want to add. I went on eBay yesterday and purchased a new Yongnuo YN568EX II, even though I have a couple of Canon speedlites in my kit. (I suppose I must have had a minor GAS attack.) The YN568EX II is Yongnuo's newest TTL speedlite with, they say, 1/8000th high-speed-sync capability and more.  Might have to play around with some HSS for the next shoot. Who knows? Might even try shooting some of that "overpowering-the-sun" stuff. Using a small flash instrument makes setting the light, whether on a stand, an arm, or in other ways, easier and simpler. Plus, I won't have to cart along a power supply like I do when I'm shooting with monoblocs on location. All I'll need is some AA batteries to power the light. Keep it simple, right?

Here's one more I snapped of Diana. This one is quite a bit different. For about a year or so, I've had a plastic Holga lens in my bag, one with a Canon EF mount. I had never shot with it until this recent personal shoot.  It takes a lot of light to shoot with that lens and the viewfinder remains very dim, making it difficult to see what's in it in spite of how much daylight there might be.  It's a fixed-focus, fixed-aperture curiosity that's little more than a pinhole lens. I can't even refer to it as "glass" since I don't believe there's a single molecule of glass in it.  When the Holga people say, "all plastic," they mean all plasitc. The Holga lens self-produces the pronounced vignetting you see. It's very lo-fi! Wish it produced light leaks. Maybe I can figure a way to make it produce some light leaks? In production, not in post.

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1 comment:

EleganceAndChaos said...

It is nice to see you finding your passion again through some personal work. It is good to remind yourself why you got into photography in the first place. I am finding a change of pace is a good way to re-charge the creative juices.