Friday, September 30, 2011

Portraiture Project: Experimentation and Sonic Screams

Having given up in my noble effort to interact with humanity, I realized I had no one to photograph and decided to experiment with a little blurring in the facial area. It's not exactly Diane Arbus, but it's unsettling and you can do it with your own face. 
I took this picture almost immediately after setting up my tripod, which is too bad because I had yet to set up any kind of background and I could never replicate the result afterwards. Every other picture was either a confused mess or looked like a mistake. Here I got the gaunt, skull-like appearance which really shouldn't be so hard to get with my gaunt, skull-like face.
This effect is neat, but it did feel a little gimmicky, and often didn't translate to black-and-white well. I thought I might be overdoing it and tried just making a crazy face, like the grenade kid. This turns out to be harder than you would think. It turns out that a picture of someone making a face looks like a person making a face. If we can trust wikipedia, Grenade Boy is actually feeling what his face shows. That's why the picture works. As evidence of this, the only picture that I thought was interested was the one of me trying to keep my eyes open after the light I turned on was unexpectedly bright, and I only like it because if you look closely you can see the little pores and imperfections on the surface of the skin.
But it's not weird, and it's not Diane Arbus. Anyway I am sick of self-portraits, and I know this is not actually going to work, because as much as I am an in inexhaustible font of awkwardness, the moment I try to capture it gets replaced by a close facsimile of itself which I can't help but be aware of. It's just as difficult as trying to look natural. So next time...something else

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Portraiture Project: Complications, Rising Action

Well, I don't have anything to show for this project that I'm proud of yet. Of course, I never do at this point. All of my projects consist of a long period of unhappy bungling and picture after picture that I don't like at all, before taking the one or two pictures I actually like at the last minute and by weird chance through hard work and determination. I'm having problems with my process, though. I haven't yet had a chance to follow a single person through some daily routines yet, which is what I really intended for this project, but I tried taking pictures of my friends. The problem is that I did my artist presentation on Diane Arbus, and I wanted weird, disconcerting. Disconcerting is really the key word for this project. I am going to use that word into the ground. Anyway, I wasn't planning on joining a nudist colony so the idea of following some kind of daily routine was important. Diane Arbus has a lot of pictures where a fairly normal situation gives you the same disconcerted feeling as the "freaks" and that was what I was going to do. I couldn't really pull this off while hanging out with my friends, because I kind of like them, and it would be hard to portray hanging out in sinister light unless I absolutely hated them. Hence the importance of shadowing someone.

I will probably do some of that later this week and more over the weekend. But I needed a little more to show for my contact sheet, so for my second attempt I tried a different tack.

"I like my friends too much," I thought, "That is my weakness. But who am I afraid of? Of course! Everyone! They're out there living lives of quiet desperation right now, aren't they?" And so I went out and took a picture of this guy. And that was all, because it started raining very abruptly and rather heavily, and I had to go inside because my camera is worth money I don't have.
If I had more time, I could have probably improved on this picture--I wasn't even close to the subject when I took it. But I like it pretty well as it is; it was already starting to rain, and the picture is cramped and rushed in a way that compliments the man's awkward pose. It also reminds me of Arbus's A Family on Their Lawn One Sunday in Westchester, N.Y. 1968:

It's just, you know, not as good.
So I think taking pictures of strangers has some potential. I don't think I will do any more of it, however, because people freak me out and make me nervous and are jerks about being photographed. I was actually a bit relieved when it started raining. So I went home and tried some more things. This is getting lengthy, though, so let's say TO BE CONTINUED