Okay.. So.. What's up?
Yesterday the Assembly of Shame exhibition opened and to be honest it was even more bizarre than I expected it. I took part with the triptych of photographs you can see above, which I think play nicely to tell the story I wanted to.
How did this happen and what the heck was I thinking?
My dad told me about the event for this exhibition when he randomly came across it on his Facebook feed. I didn't think I would actually do something for it, but I started thinking about the possibilities (+ the fact that it's good exposure regardless) and I came up with the storyboard on my way home after reserving my spot in the gallery.
My idea was fairly simple - Shame is passed on; it's learned once you have a baseline for 'good' and 'bad' and I interpreted Shame through the mask metaphorically. So an older individual would be bearing the mask daily and it would be passed on to the younger kids, who wouldn't realize what it actually is, so they would be almost happy getting it.
How did I actually do it?
There was about a week between me coming up with the idea and reserving my place and the day I had to hang my work in the venue. I had to allow for about 4 for print, because it was a massive print (100x65cm) on a cloth-type paper instead of typical glossy photopaper. (Turned out awesome by the way!)
I set up an improvised studio with a black bed-sheet for a background because my seamless roll of paper doesn't fit in my room. You can see on the pictures, how I had the camera set up to be tethered to the computer which displays to a second monitor facing where the subject (i.e. me or my brother) would be sitting. In this way I could trigger the camera with a remote and look at the picture without moving when taking the self portrait and make adjustments from there as needed.
The main light is the speedlight on camera left, which has a very small softbox on it, as I wanted some diffusion but still a very hard light because of the low-key look I was going for. I also taped a flag (Quick tip time: ALWAYS have some kind of tape in your camera bag!), which is meant to block any light falloff onto the background and restrict the light on me. *cough* I mean.. on the subject!
My buddy Fill, as Peter Hurley says, comes from the 5 in 1 reflector on camera right, which brings back some light from the softboxed speedlight and a tiny bit from the hair light, also giving it a little of that blue-ish-purple hue. Then the hair light is my second speelight on a stand right in the middle behind the background sheet. This was gelled with blue/purple (although not the photographic CTB gell, sadly, I really need to get those) to give some separation from the black suit on the black background. Also, I quite liked the pop of colour in there. I did it both with and without it and I definitely think these look more interesting and less monochromatic.
I triggered the main light with a cord running to the camera, while the back light was in slave mode, so it fired when it saw the other one flash. Neat. My remote triggers failed me, but I still managed it. (Another Quick Tip: Photographers are problem solver. We need to solve technical, artistic and purely human error to make the image we need or want. It's important to have a wide range of tools in your arsenal to be able to seem in control to your client when actually nothing is working the way you need it to. That.. wasn't so quick.. ups..)
Editing! Yes, that topic...
I am not a fan of my work looking overly edited. I do spend quite a bit of time in Lightroom and starting to spend more and more in Photoshop as well, but I always aim to make my final image look as natural as possible.
I didn't do much to these photos either. Shadows/highlights work, a little bit of toning and local adjustments and that's it really. I'm also ashamed (haha.. get it? ashamed? Assembly of Shame? Ok..) that I did actually crop these photos. I'm a big proponent of not croping and doing it in camera, but here I didn't have much of a choice, as I wasn't behind the camera, and it made the images a lot stronger, so it's justifiable imo. almost. Nothing too fancy in the post-processing department. You can even still see the creases in the sheet in the background if you look closely. Good lighting does most of the editing work for you.
The Assembly of Shame
It was an interesting event; quite bizarre and extravagant and pretentious even in some cases, but with some really remarkable and interesting work on display. I hope my catches attention in a similar way. The exhibition will be open until the end of January, so anyone who is here in Sofia in that time, I strongly encourage to visit and take a look around. Again, you can find the event here.
Final thoughts to share?
I sort of abandoned this blog because I didn't do very much photographically in the last few months, however I am generating a list (kinda like Santa) of potential topics I can write about and keep this website alive and hopefully growing!
(Hint: check back soon for more content or to make life easier just follow my social networks.)
Bonus (kinda silly) shots!