This challenge took a very interesting road to get to where it is now. I started this challenge with an idea that I thought was going to work and instead ended up in a more unusual situation with my arm submerged into a plastic tote filled with milk water. Not the most flattering of situations but whatever works to get the best shot.
My creative process began with a very different idea at first going for a artistic “hipster” vibe. My idea was to have four white mugs lined up with coffee inside with different amounts of milk added to create an “ombré” effect to the coffee. The shoot started off good with my varying coffee mixtures and using the camera at different angles to get the perfect shot. Having four identical cups of coffee it was important to have all the cups symmetrical. I was constantly focusing on the symmetry of the cups and adjusting them based on the angle of the photo. After the shoot was done I realized that although my idea was interesting it didn’t give the “artistic” feel I wanted for the challenge, this lead me to rethink my approach.
Instead I decided to go in a different direction that focused on the “artistic” approach rather than on the color. When I think of artistic subjects I envision photos that make you think and that strike a cord at the emotion heart stings of on lookers. I focused on the idea of mystery and intrigue when thinking about where to start this project. Some of my favorite subjects in photography is the mystery of vaguely seeing things in fog even if they are very close to you. It is what isn’t there that strikes an emotional cord with me.
Unfortunately I could not rely on the unpredictable nature of actual fog and so I had to come up with the illusion of a fogy subject. This “fogy style” could be achieved by having my subject in slightly opaque water. It took a couple of tries to see what could work to make the water seem murky; flour caused a grainy lumpy effect to the water while milk created the perfect illusion of fog. I contemplated using a bathtub or large laundry sink for the job but soon realized there would not be enough room for the lights in that small of an area and the water couldn’t be illuminated properly without causing a reflective surface on top. The solution was to put the milky water in a clear plastic storage tote and have the lights shine through the sides to illuminate the water and the subject.
I decided that the best subject for this shoot would be a hand and although the plastic tote was perfect for lighting it was also quite snug for my model/assistant to have his arm fully submerged in the water. After a couple of shots at different angles and poses it turned out my assistant Jared could not fit his whole arm into the vat without hitting the other side of the tote. This caused me to rethink my approach and instead I used my own hand for the shoot. Continuing the shoot one handed while balancing a camera over open water was not a risk I wanted to take with my expensive camera, instead Jared held the camera’s strap just above the water’s level while I used one hand to hold and angle the camera to shoot. It was a balancing act but it worked.
The result of the shoot created ominous pictures that somehow captured your attention. The milky water created blurred lines on the hands and the palms of my hands were barely seen. Only the tips of the fingers showed details while the other areas of the hands created shadows of what might be there. While processing the photos I felt that the subject had depth but it didn’t tell a story. I decided to create an image using two different hand photos to create this untold story, the result was of one hand lurking in the darkness while the other bathed in light held out for the other one. This edit gives the image either a story about letting go of someone or helping someone out of the darkness. Whatever your interpretation is of the challenge’s photo this week I hope you feel an emotional bond to it and its unspoken story.