By Zave Smith
Often our best work is produced in between. Suddenly we have a moment. Suddenly we have a bit of space between our client’s projects. A model calls wanting to shoot, a book read on an airplane leaves a lasting impression.
“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern is a novel about a circus in the late 19th century. The world Morgenstern created in this novel was a world I loved visiting. In Morgenstern’s circus, ascetics were as important as daring.
Yandea, my subject, is beautiful, smart and knows her art history. On the phone she mentions she has a black and white dress, she mentions that she does not have a car so we are going to have shoot near her home, she also mentions that there was a small carnival a block away. With visions from “The Night Circus” in my head I drove out to Reading.
Sometimes we shoot with a game plan and with a layout in hand. Other times we just go into the visual kitchen with various ingredients to see if we can cook something for supper. My shoot with Yandea was a box of flour, a quart of milk, an egg, some chicken and a few different unlabeled jars of seasonings. When I looked at her outfit I thought, “let’s paint her face in black and white.” When I saw an empty field near her home, I grabbed a hula-hoop. Yandea also wanted to shoot in a colorful peasant dress so over to the Carnival we went, dress on, searching for the fun.
The next day when looking over the images, I knew that I had some interesting stuff but the images felt flat. For a week I played with the post processing trying different color palettes to balance my vision of fantasy and reality, of beauty, fun and the sadness that I felt while shooting. It took me a week of walking away and walking back to my desk to find the right visual seasonings that made a plate of ingredients into a photograph.
It’s time to head back to the airports. It is time to fulfill my client’s dreams. In this day of shrinking budgets and invisible clients the only way to become visible, and to keep our phones ringing, is to serve new dishes. New dishes are not born during the rush. They are born during the times in between.