Tuesday, July 25, 2006
What are you?
I'm a photographer. A portrait photographer, for the most part now, exploring ways outside (and inside) the idea of what a traditional portrait is. I know my style, and I think that as a photographer, that is the most important thing you one can do. Only if you know your style - and I mean REALLY know it - like in your sleep - can you try to push away from it, within it...
I had dinner with my photographic mentor Richard Goldstein last night and as usual, after a couple of beers, I said, "So Rich, what would you think if I..." and then some crazy thing, like "pushed the boundaries of fashion while trying to get hired in the fashion world." Or "only shot with up and coming porn stars, but made them do fashiony type stuff." Or "just took pictures of the back of people's heads."
Blah blah blah. My inexperience as a self-marketer and lack of confidence in a world that I would like to break into (I think). Coupled with the confidence of the booze and Rich there, listening intently, knowing that he really likes what I do and genuinely likes "mentoring" me. At 41, I often find that I sound like I'm 12 when I'm asking him these things...
Well, Rich ordered another Grey Goose and tonic and told me what he always has: Do not compromise your style. It is "unique" but more importantly and true (as "unique" is a tough one to stand there and defend) your eye and the way you think and see things and the way you get excited about imagery and manipulating light and models and settings and film stock and all of that shit thrown into a big bowl and sloshed around is "unique." He told me that he thinks that I am onto something, and in this day and age where EVERYTHING has been done and copied, there are people out there - patrons, reps, editors, art directors, gallery owners who will find me. With a need...
Of course, it ain't that simple, but it sure did bolster my confidence and make trying to figure out that puzzle a little more enjoyable today.
So, that said, I think that mainly I am a portrait photographer, albeit a non-traditional one.
I like tension in my photos - something that causes the viewer to feel just a little uncomfortable or a bit put-off, but drawn in at the same time - an inability to look away.
In 2004, I started my first monograph project of 20 women in 20 different hotel rooms in NYC. It's called "Rooms." With each model, I created a back-story, a character, a scenario, which of course dictated wardrobe, hair, MU and location. It was elaborate and involved and after 30 or so shoots, I had completely exhausted it within me creatively. And I had my 20 pieces.
Needing to do something different, my inclination was to start shooting portraits, still edgy, still "erotic" (whatever that means) and in my style.
I'm just beginning.
(the above stream of consciousness drivel especially for Chip & Don)