The next great discovery for me was back-lighting. This creates a real separation from the background and makes the person or object you are photographing leap out of the photo.
A more recent discovery has been edge-lighting - a place inbetween side and back. I've been using it for years as part of the mix, but where the beauty comes is when it, and only it, is being used.
Last year I did a series of photos in collaboration with sculptor, Lucianne Lassalle, and model, Kat (Night Phoenix). It was a day spent in play and experimentation to see what might happen. Kat was progressively coated in chalks, powders, clay and even paint, by Lucianne, while I tried out different compositions, angles and lighting.
Among the 300 or so photos I took, there are a great deal of interesting, fascinating and quite beautiful images. However due to life getting in the way for all three of us, nothing has yet been done with any of the photos, although we have recently started discussing potential ways to move forward with them and ideas they have inspired.
Because of these conversations I was looking back through the images and came across a few where the lighting had "failed" - I was using two off-camera flashes and only one had fired, meaning the effect I was after didn't materialise on those shots.
But for some reason, when looking at these photos this time round I was suddenly struck by their potential. I pulled them into photoshop, converted them to black and white, then started playing with the lighting levels - gradually making the shadows and mid-tones darker and darker until they were completely black, leaving only the areas where the light had directly hit the body.
And the images that emerged made me go all goose-bumpily. I was amazed at how wonderful they looked.
I phoned Kat last night and she's delighted with them and more than happy for me to put them up online, so I knew exactly what this week's blog post was going to be. Later in the evening she sent me an email, saying:
I love the slightly abstract feel of them, the mystery to them, the capacity for the viewer to create their own story, how they are real and confront the viewer with their realness. I adore the juxtoposition of a real persons body with cellulite, sags and skin things aka "flaws" with the beautiful poses and almost serene atmosphere or otherwise energetic vibe. I like the challenging nature of that challenging society (certain mainstream media) views of what beauty or sensuality is. To think I have been a part of this :D
Deep, beautiful, emotive, challenging and abstract. We did good and you did amazing!
Definately worth an earful of clay!
As always, feel free to click on the images for larger versions