The Collectors

Legitimately a series about people’s stuff.

This idea occurred to me years ago, but at the time I didn’t have the means for execution (so, basically any shoot I come up with ever.) I don’t know why, but this summer I decided I wasn’t putting it off anymore, and I was going to do this series at last.

And I adore it to pieces.

I love seeing what people collect and why. It is so fascinating, the things people collect, and it goes beyond collecting erasers or rocks (which are great to collect, btw.) Some have big collections, some have small, some have strange collections and some have collections of things no one has ever heard of. It is fantastic.

But hey, look for yourself:

Me and my rubber duckies are so fabulous, even Ernie from Sesame Street is foaming at the mouth in a jealous rage.

I chose the set up carefully. I thought about photographing people in their homes with their collections, but I just had a gut feeling that wouldn’t yield the results I wanted. Putting people on a white background felt organic to me– the sitter would be isolated, with no distractions, with their objects. The viewer can only focus on them and their collection, which is spectacular, to draw conclusions and shatter expectations. I asked my sitters to relax their face and not smile, something I learned from working with Jochen Gertz and his project, The Gift.

Also I didn’t want these to look like senior portraits. #bye

With a neutral expression, the focus is on what I intended: the individual and their relationship with objects.

So, yeah! These are the first 9 images, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon. I have even more of these to edit currently, but I wanted to give you guys a little background on this project.

Do you collect anything?

Happy Shooting!

This Photo Shoot Took Two Years to Plan… Here’s Why:

I had an idea two years ago, where I built a blanket fort in the woods and dressed people in pretty clothing and made the space all misty/dreamy. But, I didn’t have the means to complete my vision, which included lots of pillows, sheets, string lights, a generator and a fog machine.

Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff for one shoot. Not to mention pricey. I’m not rich, so I had to purchase these items over a long period of time.

So, for the past two years I’ve been hoarding slowly collecting the things I needed for the shoot. I learned how to use studio lights, which gave me a way to photograph the scene in the dark successfully, and I became a better photographer overall. I was ready to finally do this thing.

Since I’m working on my dream series, I figured the beautiful scene I imagined would be a good fit. But, a few weeks before the shoot, I had a cool idea: gas masks.

Surrealism is oftentimes executed like this:

one object + another object that doesn’t make sense with the first object = surrealism.

(It’s a teensy bit more complicated than that, but you get the jist.)

I’ve been waiting two years to execute my idea, and last night I was finally able to bring my vision to life.

This shoot was super fun and the results were unexpected. I had the pleasure of shooting with three lovely young ladies who I had never met before, and I had help from a photojournalism student who shadowed me for this shoot. Plus, my boyfriend was there too, and being helpful is part of his job description.

The finished product wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, as I had a fog machine. But, when plugged into the generator, the lights would shut off. I had to make a choice, so I chose the lights. Plus, by the time we started shooting, the lights were turning off and on and eventually shut off completely. The generator called it quits, then my light kit called it quits, and then we finally called it quits.

I was going for creepy, and I definitely created that feeling with the harsh, straight-on flash (which was also positioned on the ground firing on about a 45 degree angle,) which created the flashlight-under-the-chin look. Y’know, like when you’re eight and telling spooky stories? Am I explaining this right?

Oh, did I mention the whole thing took almost seven hours?

Thank goodness for Caroline and her large car. I warned her I had a lot of stuff, but seeing it all in one place even surprised me. Setting it all up was even more of a task. It was super duper freaking cold a little chilly, and we had to take a break at one point because we couldn’t feel our fingers or toes.

Also, don’t let my sweater fool you: I had eight layers on under it.

Or, you can let it fool you and imagine me to have cold-resistant super powers. Your choice.

After hours of setting up, we did the shoot, and celebrated by sitting in Caroline’s warm house drinking hot cocoa and eating warm pizza. It was a wonderful, yet exhausting, shoot.

It feels good to achieve something you worked on for a long time. Try it sometime, but try not to do it at the end of November in the northern part of the world. It’s a bit rough.

Happy Shooting!

Chasing Balloons

Today I did an impromptu photo shoot with my friend, Alison. We went to the dollar store, got 40 black balloons, and went to the vacant lot near my house (y’know, the only place around here that sort of looks like nature. We take what we can get in the suburbs.) I really had no ideas or concept, but as usual, a narrative fell into place as I worked.

While we were at the field forest lot place thing, we came across this little fort. It’s in one of the pictures above. It was kind of funny, kind of weird, and definitely made for some teenagers up to no good. We explored it a little, I climbed a tree… The usual business.

I shot 35mm film, Fuji Superia ISO800. I remembered how much I liked the 800 speed film in that field the first time I shot film there, and I wasn’t disappointed. I ran out of my roll, and even though I was done, there were two more moments that needed to be documented. So, I pulled out my handy dandy iPhone to save the day for the second time this week.

It’s great to gauge how far I’ve come this past year. Last December I shot my first roll of film on an automatic SLR. Now, a year later, I’m shooting with a fully manual SLR and I can read light on my own to pick out the best possible shutter speed and aperture without the need of a light meter. I make mistakes, but dang, I’ve come so far. Practice makes perfect, and this past year I’ve been practicing almost non stop.