Sunday, June 05, 2011
Facing The Weekend
Photo taken by Rogan
Over the next day or two I will start taking down the 130 or so photos stuck to the walls of my studio from last weekend's Spring Fling Open Studio event (see previous couple of posts).
It was a success on every level I can think of - in terms of response, feedback and keeping up my energy levels. Before I began, I thought perhaps I might be able to photograph 80 people over the 3 days. Secretly I hoped for a hundred. As I closed the door late on Monday afternoon, I had photographed over 170.
Amazingly, more than half of all the visitors who walked through the door agreed to take part. And the feedback and enthusiasm I received was wonderful.
This is what the first ones faced as they entered my studio (click on any of the images for larger versions):
1 - PHOTOS - not wanting the first visitors to face a completely empty wall, I figured having a few photos up first might help encourage people to take part. This included one my daughter, Meg; two of my son, Rogan - before and after his dramatic haircut; one of me, taken by Rogan, and 4 photos of friends who helped me 2 days before when I decided to dry-run the system - Graham, Danny, Mark and Ken. Andrew also helped, but the printer started playing up so I didn't get a photo of him up until later.
2 - REFLECTOR - the back of the reflector used to bounce a softer light on to the other side of the face - see below for more details.
3 - COMPUTER - bridging the photo between camera and printer, allowing me to convert the image to black and white and email a copy to anyone who wanted it.
4 - CHAIR - in order to minimise energy expenditure, I spent most of the weekend sitting down.
5 - OLD PRINTER - ready as back-up in case the new one failed. After all the hassle I'd had with it on the dry-run, when I discovered the new printer would only use the black ink cartridge if I lied to it, I thought it was wise to have one in reserve. Fortunately I didn't need it.
6 - STACK OF BLACK INK CARTRIDGES - I had no idea how many I would need. In the end, I only used about half the number I bought.
7 - OLD LAPTOP - used for displaying a slideshow of photos. However, it became clear quite quickly that no one was bothering with it - partly because it was too low down to see, but as there was no room anywhere to put it at a higher level, we didn't use it on Sunday or Monday.
8 - STEPLADDER - used as a seat for my assistant (my wonderful friend Mark, until about 3.30pm on Saturday, and Rogan the rest of the weekend), or for sticking the photos on the higher parts of the wall.
9 - CUPBOARD - stuffed full of miscellany not intended for display, so hidden behind the assistant/stepladder.
10 - TABLE WITH FORMS - so I could use the photos of the people, I had a Model Release Form for each of them to sign. It's a legal grey area, so this covered my butt. It also allowed people to leave their email address if they wanted more information about the book I'm going to create (see further down the page).
11 - VISITOR COMMENTS BOOK - and a bowl of sweets to encourage people to leave nice comments. However, only 16 visitors left a comment in it, and one of those was my daughter.
THE PHOTOGRAPHY AREA
Those who got their photograph taken would sit in the chair with their body facing the window, which acted as the main light source, then they would turn their head back to me and look into the camera. The textured backdrop worked as a background more interesting than white and not as ink-heavy to print as black. The reflector cast a softer light on the other side of their face, lifting it out of the shadows.
This set up allowed me to be at the right height to photograph them while sitting in my chair, and it removed the need for lights, which would have taken up more room and run the risk of getting knocked over, or bulbs burning out.
It was all about trying to keep things as simple as possible.
Below are a couple of photos of the studio after the weekend, with all the photos on the walls.
The exhibition was intereactive and grew as the weekend progressed. At 5.30pm on Monday, it was all over. However, this is not the end.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be putting all the images into a book called "Facing The Weekend", which I'll be publishing on Blurb.com for anyone who's interested. More on that when it's complete.