The Lana Effect - Experimentation

NSFW

While Lana was hanging around the Baltimore studio for a few days quite a while back I was just starting to do experiments for this project. One particular early afternoon I made a quick series of the white side in the context of the kitchen and doing dishes….

Since that point I used that kitchen as context for a bunch of other experiments but a few were the exact same set of circumstances. Specifically doing the dishes. Each of them produced remarkably similar reactions over the course of time. Not identical but interesting patterns. In many ways the occasion messing around with Lana led to a slightly different way of working on this entire group of projects. I discussed it early on but each accidental occasion where the majority of time was spent not making pictures that really brought how important that is for any sort of project that remotely resembles documentary work.

It's kind of funny that a lot of that thought process wasn't at all new, it was just a deeper understanding of how time was being spent that was refined in a large way. The how being not making pictures at all. I was led to the same realization on the chastity project just via a differing path but ultimately for the same reasons.

Quick Backstory

That whole Lana thing with the dishes came about because dishes are always a big issue of contention. As you may have been able to guess — nobody does them until somebody goes ballistic about it. Usually the person that did them last time and didn't make any of the new ones. It's extremely rare that any of the dozens of people in and out or any of the people hanging out for a few days does them for sure. Well guess what came up right before the Lana pictures in the kitchen?

Fast forward of the couple of other experiments I've done that have the same circumstances with the same contention regarding the dishes came up. That of course led to "Hey, why not make some pictures with some of the project props in that context". Which one way or another led to a few pictures while getting ready with the props and whatever wardrobe might be laying around the dishwasher wanted. So the sequence with not a lot of intention has been…

  • Getting ready with the collar, cuffs, chain etc. With a few pictures.
  • A couple of pictures with a crap-ton of self awareness prior to actually doing any dishes.
  • Some time spent actually doing dishes.
  • A few pictures here and there.
  • A few breaks. Breaks as in the dishwasher just had to take some of that chain weight off, or had to stop standing up (heels and such), or had to make adjustments to hardware or whatever.
  • Some pictures during the breaks.
  • A few instances with longer breaks and a semi-serious negotiation of just finishing the dishes without the hardware.
  • Finishing up along with a few pictures.

Accidents And Such

Believe it or not this whole deal took much longer than one would expect. Never less than an hour. In some cases more than two. Why was this? A lot of reasons; Restraints actually make doing dishes kinda slow, lack of any real effort to get them done quickly at the begining, chit chat with other people, the inevitable need to get take a break from the weight/heels/whatever at increasing frequency, some discussion about just quitting and finishing them up later (not the agreement and I wasn't the hard-ass on this one ever).

Here's the point. Most of the time leading up to the whole deal and during the dish doing was spent not making pictures at all. Of course that produced completely different pictures than setups that were explicitly for the making of pictures. Sure this project was in the back of my mind and of course the props were specifically for the black/white project but the circumstances were far more casual. This of course led to an even looser style. The pictures included of Wendy I specifically shot the entire time with moronically slow shutter speeds ranging from 1/15th sec. to 1/60th sec.

In many cases I even wracked the focus way out on purpose and didn't bother to move back when Wendy's actions (not really that predictable) called for a wider view.

Candid Has Nothing To Due with Viewer/Subject Awareness

Stange subtitle but worth mentioning. First off is what really does candid mean?

taken informally, especially without the subject's knowledge.

Above is the definition as regarding a camera strait out of the dictionary. Note the "especially" part. Wendy knew I was taking a few pictures of course. While in the course of some activity or antoher there's a gray area on "subject's knowledge". This is especially true when during that activity there are parts with and without cameras and picture making.

I'd venture to say that there's a fluidity in awareness and knowledge of picture making. Sometimes there's a consciousness and sometimes there's not. The longer the time spent and especially with great periods of time not making pictures the more this seems fluid.

We're talking about the person in front of the camera above in terms of awareness. Obviously a huge factor in what pictures look like. That is linked directly with the viewer of the picture as well right? If the subject is aware there's indicators that make the viewer aware that the subject is aware. So why the sub-title. Well let's just say that's a bit of hyperbole.

Going just a bit deeper, there's tons of ways to manipulate things to look candid and many ways of manipulating the viewer in terms of subject awareness. I think there's at least two posts here discussing those factors. What's difficult is that actual candid part which I play with a lot in this project. I'm coming to a point were I don't think it's an either/or proposition when I eventually put some of my raw material together or when I make additional pictures as I once thought it was. At this point I think it's a careful selection of both that tells the story I want to tell.

The Difference Time Makes

So far all the random image selections included are that fluidity of consciousness. In some ways due to the fact that we were done "making pictures" from earlier and were just goofing around. The bigger part was some degree of intricate activity W. was engaged in with the hardware. If we fast forward a little bit where there's a bit less activity we'll get the opposite.

All of these share the characteristic of being made at the beginning. In fact above was the last frame I made prior to the actual doing of the dishes. What came next was me going away kinda. No camera, mostly just dishwashing. I didn't end up making any frames of the actual dishwashing for a couple of reasons. First is that it's really not that interesting, especially from the back. Trying to get some from the side is crazy difficult as I learned with Lana and pretty distracting to get anything remotely candid. The third reason is actually because every time I was around Wendy was taking a break.

Wendy seemed like she spent more time trying to find a good spot and position to take a break from the dishes than she did doing dishes.

I later found out when W. was almost done part of the reason for so many breaks was that the chain was hooked up at a length that was too short and she really couldn't stand up all the way. Not really the intent but influenced a lot of the pictures. They started to change even more significantly as time went by.

I didn't make tons of pictures but I did try a gigantic variety of effects in terms of motion, shutter speed, and focus. A side effect of goofing around while just sorta having this project in the back of my mind was that instead of being focused on making a ton of pictures for the project I made a decision to make a whole lot less and leave a lot more time in between when I did.

Reflection

The casual nature of my approach to the projects and sub-projects here have had an interesting side-effect. Let's call it first level casual, that was the plan and general approach. There's a second level of casual though that's entirely an accidental side-effect. It might seem strange but there's occasions I take a break from making "work" pictures and associated stuff where I plan on working on either these projects or other personal stuff on a whim but even within that there's a time when I am "done". It's when I'm "done" but somehow end up making a few pictures that are kind of an accident based entirely on opportunity that I've learned a lot.

I mentioned this a while ago but not in the same way. I mentioned it in the service of a particular project and contemplated improving my ability to blend the not making pictures and making pictures within myself to a larger degree even though I've done it with collaborators for both personal as well as commercial work for a very long time. It's interesting I can see that in a number of ways across a lot of occasions within these projects now that I am looking and thinking about it. It's not just the one specific sub-poject. I think in a lot of ways my decision for a casual, simple approach was really a desire to figure that part of it out within my own self.

End Notes

Made with the Fuji XT-1 and 18-55mm XF. Processing via Lightroom CC using a crazy grainy black and white treatment that's close to my preference for some of the old 1600 and 3200 speed 35mm black and white films.