“In Vein” is a surreal photograph which I made in 2010 part of “Hypoxia” project, with this post I want to give you an idea of the creative process that takes making a picture like this, leaving apart the mental work on the concept, I want to show you part of the production process and the picture taking, which whether you have the resources or not it’s sometimes the most difficult part of the process, or at least it is for me.
First of, you have to keep in mind that producing a staged photograph takes time, some money or at least imaginative resources and asking you friends for favors, the more professional you become, the more the people you ask to participate in your pictures will trust you, and believe me, for this kind of photography, trust and commitment it’s indeed fundamental.
If you don’t want to spend a few weeks or months building a set your best option is find the proper location for your idea, for “In Vein” my easiest resource was a room in the hospital where my mother works, an old audiometry box with a medical chair in the middle, I had seen it a lot of times, the good thing about this room is that is no longer in use, and its walls are made of perforated panels, giving the room a sense of anxiety.
I don’t want you to believe that finding the right location for your pictures is this easy, I tend to go to places near by, but sometimes I have to drive 2 hours to get to the location and it’s not always easy to get what you want out of it, as I said earlier, locating takes time, and again, the good thing for you is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to build it, besides, with a few items, you can transform the space to build up the idea you have in mind.
For me asking to use this location was easy, however I had to find a few items for my idea:
– Four Televisions, 14-15 inches, 2 of them quite antique, asked some friends for this.
– Syringes, spray paint to make the effect of blood.
– Black and red cables, and fishing line to suspend the cables in the air.
– Old leather belts, bought in a jumble sale.
As you can imagine it didn’t take a lot of money to get the attrezzo, it did take me some time though, apart from recycling or asking you friends you can always take advantage of nowadays shops and buy the things you need in a shop, use it for your photograph and return it, resulting in a 0 $ investment 🙂
Preparing the set didn’t take me too long, but again, some time was needed, it was one of my first staged photographs and I didn’t really know if things were going to work out, with the set ready I started preparing the light, before the day of the photo-shoot I wanted to have the main idea about this scene’s lighting, I believe it’s important to prepare in advance the light scheme of your set, there will be always the possibility of improvising, but setting a starting point and let your collaborators know you have made your work show professionalism and seriousness.
My advice for this part is, don’t feel overwhelmed and don’t think you are going to take the picture of your life in the first 10 minutes, photo shoots can take a long time, sometimes I have spent 8 hours easily taking the same picture, adjusting the lights, seeing if the expression I got in the takes is the one I wanted. Look carefully at the pictures you take, if you can use a laptop to see them in a bigger size, sometimes this will make you see things you don’t like in a eye blink, and if you can ask one more friend to assist you digitally even better, one thing you don’t have to worry about, the same for the lights, obviously if you have 3 friends helping you with your session either you are very good or you usually invite them with the best beers and food in town. My point with all this is that the ideal situation is when you have a professional for each aspect of your photograph, make up, styling, lighting, etc. you can really focus in getting the most out of the stage, interacting with your “actors” is basic, imagine how they are going to focus if you are constantly modifying lights, checking the computer, etc.
“In Vein” took a few hours of tries, light schemes, different compositions and body expressions, to tell the truth I could have spent a few more hours taking pictures, but since we didn’t have the whole day on location ( I had asked the hospital for permission), we had to take a “problem-solving approach” , this is also an important thing to keep in mind, when we don’t have all the time we want for the photo shoot we have to be operative, try first the things you are most certain of working out, keeping it simple.
“In Vein” was shoot with a Peleng Fish eye 8mm lens on a Canon 450d, my first DSLR, which I later sold, I love the second hand market, but that has nothing to do with this post, 🙂 , I used this lens because I didn’t have any other option, the room was really small, I wouldn’t do it that way if I had to take this picture today, I’d try to find a different location to be honest, but it’s good to see the progression on your work along the years 🙂 , only if you see you have improved 🙂
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