Sunday, February 13, 2011
Liberated in Ten Seconds
Imagine, if you would, that you are a photographic artist, but you have only ten seconds in which to take each shot, you use yourself as the model, and you never show your face. These are the three distinct signatures of my work. They mark each and every one of my images. And they challenge me in ways most photographers will not be able to imagine unless they have attempted this feat themselves.
Using myself as the model means that before each photo session I need to prepare myself to be photographed. It is not just a preparation of wardrobe, but of attitude as well. I have to feel confident that I will be able to express what I seek to in my art, through using myself as the model. This often challenges the kind of relationship I have with myself, and my with body. I don’t always feel like photographing myself, but that is inconsequential, as I engage my feelings in the image, no matter what they are. My photos, after all, are always reflections of something I am experiencing in my life. What better person to illustrate that then myself? So, I inevitably become my own model.
In using oneself as the model, you cannot see what you are creating until after you take the photo. You have nothing to look at except what lies in your imagination. You cannot direct the model to pose in accordance with what looks good to you through you camera’s lens. The composition is something you can only estimate. The exact aesthetics of the model’s form remain a mystery until after you have taken the shot, and return to your camera to see how it turned out. And you use no remotes, so you only have ten seconds once you set the timer on your camera to run back to the spot, and assume the desired stance, or pose. And don’t forget, your face must always remain a mystery.
These self imposed artistic disciplines usually force me to run back and forth between my camera, and the area my camera is aiming at, many times. I position myself in front of the camera, I wait for the signal, I listen, the shot is taken, I get up and return to my camera, then I look at the shot. Perhaps my face was tilted to face the camera? I need to reshoot. I set the ten second timer on my camera, run back to the spot, and do it again. Perhaps the lighting changed so my settings did not work? I do it again. Maybe I ran so fast back to the spot, I accidentally pulled the backdrop curtain down. Another reshoot. Sometimes, when I am aiming for a particular result, I may run back to my camera over 75 times. This is the number of shots it took me to come up with this image here:
With each photo shoot, I usually end up with close to 100 raw shots I upload to my computer for editing. That means I ran back and forth over 100 times. It is always interesting for me to see how many pictures I end up with, as I am often surprised by how many they are! For, when I am in the middle of a photo shoot, I am so energized by my own creativity, and the excitement of seeing the finished photos, that I rarely notice the passing of time, or the labor required involved in being one’s own model.
I believe that the most powerful art comes from a timeless, effortless dimension of sorts. Why don’t I set my camera to take several images at once? Why don’t I use a remote and give myself more time in which to settle into the pose? Because I like cultivating that timeless, effortless force in my art. As a result of this original, creative process, I’ve found myself developing a very tight relationship between time and space, and the way I fit into time and space. Instead of limiting my creative expression, I’ve found that my unique, artistic disciplines have challenged me to expand the ways in which I see myself, and my very existence. Thus, the ways in which I make art. Consequently ten seconds in which to find myself, and turn myself into art ends up being most liberating!