The Chastity Project & Passing Of Time

Okay, enough with gear posts for at least a little bit. If you didn't get the point of yesterday's Profoto 4ft Octa fan-boy slathering, here's the short version; Over a fairly broad range of circumstances you can chuck it up any old place (not really but close) and just make pictures without too too much care. I shared the very first exposure test with Melanie in that post. What follows are a few more.

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Context

The plan was to make some fashion-y pictures this time using one of the 5 or 6 dresses and other wardrobe pieces I blindly ordered for dirt cheap on Amazon. Sometime's you win and sometimes you lose with $20 Amazon dresses. This time around it was a total washout. Sizes were all over the map, fit was not right, the materials were shoddy and lousy looking. At least the white faux suede boots fit well and looked good. What's more is that every single wardrobe item was packed and folded in such a way that they were a mess of creases and wrinkles on inferior fabrics that just looked bad.

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Here's how the day went:

  • An hour or so getting the right fit for the main prop. A completely new and different prop that is a bit more practical for an all day or multi-day group of setups in various locations I have in mind. Too bad wardrobe didn't cooperate for this to be that occasion.
  • After that some chit-chat, very late lunch, and goofing around deciding which particular wardrobe to try first.
  • One by one over then next several hours M. steamed the wrinkles out of each dress and gave it a whirl. All the while I took a shot here and there to serve as a mirror. One by one each item was like ummm, no.
  • The only thing that even sorta looked okay were the suede boots and white trench coat seen here. Even that was dicy because of the inferior fabric it was constructed of.

So here we were at the end of a long day, 2:05AM to be exact. All the while M. wearing the fairly well fitted new prop. Ostensibly we were going to try a few fashion-y pictures on white seamless and go for something subtle with the prop. Maybe a couple lifestyle-y pictures in the upstairs rooms that have some mirrors and other "getting ready to go out" kinds of vibe.

While I was setting up and figuring out mirror angles, Melanie took a bit of a break on the bed right next to where we had planned to make a few shots. The only light in the room at that point was the modeling light in the 4ft Octa. It happened to look okay so I made a series of casual pictures while Melanie was taking her break.

I didn't work in any sort of continuous stream or sequence. In a strange way M.'s break and my setup/testing of what we were actually planning on doing just blended into one thing. That's kind of a first for me (except for the odd out-take here and there) when using any sort of strobe lighting setup. At this point way past midnight neither of us were in any sort of hurry.

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What ended up happening is documenting M. trying to get comfortable and take a break from what I referred to as the oppressive nature of that new prop. After a long day this is the effect that prop has. It's extremely different than the props I've used in the past for the Chastity Project. That was challenging in a very different way in terms of movement restriction and any discomfort. With every one of those props the challenge was keeping the rubber in place so that the thin unfinished steel was not scratching or pinching. This was no scratching, no sharp edges to be exposed due to rubber coverings becoming dislodged. It was just constant and unyielding in every single spot that the few pieces touched.

Accidents Vs Plans

The reality of the wardrobe put a giant kibosh on what we had planned and the kind and feel of the pictures we intended to make. Of course my particular goals included a lot of time spent over the course of a day or two based on previous observations I made for this project. That ended up happening but instead of all the various setups in mind making different kinds of pictures the time was spent all day not making pictures but trying to make wardrobe work, goofing around, entertaining a few drop by guests, (none the wiser regarding the prop) etc, etc.

That time spent from my point of view had a direct and extremely obvious effect on these semi-candid pictures made at the very end of the day. Even though I already knew for this project that time spent was required and is a large factor in the going forward process with my collaborators this time it happened but in a very different way that anticipated. In fact this particular occasion what's observed at the end of the day is far more akin to what came before the pictures I've discussed and experimented with more than once.

The what came before and it's profound impact on pictures is something I'm very familiar with for more than a decade. Maybe this accident is something I need to take into consideration for the Chastity Project. The before and what exactly that consists of that has nothing to do with making pictures. I've possibly touched on that just not from quite the same direction before on this project.

With a few exceptions here and there, I started this blog as a stream of consciousness and notes to self on a group of related personal projects. Originally I noticed that I didn't take any notes that I used to take when I shot film. Most of the notes were technical and related to lighting, exposure, planned development based on lighting/shooting conditions and things like that. The issue with EXIF and digital was that in eliminating most of the need for those practical types of notes ti also eliminated the documented thoughts that were not technical.

It's quite the revelation over a longer term project that you don't work on frequently when you document thoughts no matter how trivial at the time as I've just found out yet again while summing up this particular occasion with Melanie. A lot of dots just got connected today for me in terms of where I am going now.

Take Aways

While this group of projects is not everyone's cup of tea. In fact I'm surprised it has an audience at all beyond myself. Here's a couple things that might be universally applicable.

  • Notes, project notes are an amazing resource no matter what you work on.
  • Dealing with portrait collaborators and other humans in a picture taking context. All of the in camera and psychological work that is probably 100x more important in any endeavor making pictures with humans than the technical part. Trust me, it plays out the same way with a lot of the same factors no matter if it's a traditional portrait, fashion, lifestyle, advertising, commercial, environmental portrait, fine-art figure, and even documentary work.
  • No matter your particular propensity for planning. No matter if the plan works out or not, never be too rigid to see what other opportunities present them selves. Every photographer to on degree or another needs a constant reminder of this.

End Notes

All photos made around 40mm-50mm as I didn't want to be in M.'s face while making sporadic candid shots that in any other sense would be BTS or outtakes. All shot at f/8. Note lack of DOF even at that smallish aperture at 50mm this close. Shot with the Canon 5Ds R, Profoto D2, and Profoto 4t Octa. Processed in Capture One 11 with a slathering of fake grain and one of my usual B/W presets of medium speed film "normal" film development. At least my normal.