The Process Shots: Part 1 of 5 – Veda

365: Day 186 (explore)

Last week I posted a list of the top 5 shots that I enjoyed creating the most during my 365 project.  I labeled these shots as the “process” favorites, because my love for them is based on what led to and/or resulted from them more so than their final appearance.  As mentioned in my previous post on this, I’d struggled to decide which 365 project shots were my favorites and why.

Inspiration for the Process List
My idea for creating the separate lists (product vs process) was actually sparked by a recent Ibarionex Perello’s “The Candid Frame” podcast interview with Sarah Allegra.  Sarah’s a fine art photographer who first started her career depicting her personal struggle with myalgic encephalomyelitis.  Read more about her, and check out her work here.  At one point in the interview, Ibarionex asked Sarah how long, on average, it took her to create a piece, to which she replied that it depended on the work.  Some things only took a few hours, others took up to 40.  This resonated with me.  All that work, all that experience…which shot meant more to her?  The 3 hour or the 40 hour shot?  Which led me to the question, should the work an artist does to create a photo factor into its appeal?  Realistically, for those other than the artist, no.  Others may be impressed if the process to create the work was especially difficult.  Take, for example, the story of artist Mikael Aldo who walked down 500 steep stairs with the pictured heavy doors to create this.  But inevitably, the audience is going to be more connected to the emotional experience they have when looking at a work than the effort taken to present it to them.  To the artist, though, the work that goes into some shots will naturally cause them to mean more than even the ones that effectively connect emotionally with the audience.  This is certainly true for me.

Of the five shots I included on my process list, the first one happened to fall on all three of the lists in that I posted: the product favs, the process favs, and the Flickr top 5.  It’s a shot about a dame, see?  One who had a job to do, see?  But she blew it.

Veda’s Story
Veda came to life through a series of events that all began with one item: a wig.  For fun, one of my friends and fellow blogging artists (also a 365er) had let me borrow the short, black wig in the picture above.  It was just an inexpensive costume wig she’d picked up on a whim.  I *loved* the wig and really wanted to use it in a shot, but I also wanted it to look as realistic as possible.  So for a few weeks I stared at it, trying to figure out how to do just that. Around the same time, I began playing around with the film noir style of shooting, using a low key style and hard, selective light to create a dramatic image. I’d ordered a floppy, striped hat to play around with some dramatic black and white shots, which resulted in “Kitty,” my first image to ever to make it into Flickr’s daily set of Explored shots.

I was blown away by the Flickr success of “Kitty.”  It was incredibly exciting to get pinged by my phone every few minutes the day the shot made Explore with a notification that someone else had favorited or commented on the shot.  So my brain started churning with ideas for leveraging the success of “Kitty” into more traffic and more possibilities for future Flickr successes, which to me, translated into more exposure for my photography.  For that moment, I felt I had a fairly large audience, and I didn’t want to lose it.  So I came up with the idea to roll Kitty into a series of shots, something that might keep Flickr fans coming back or clicking further into my photo stream.  And then it clicked…Kitty was pseudo film noir, at least hollywood beauty-esque.  Maybe if I rolled her into a literal storyline of sorts, since people liked the shot they might come back to check out related shots that were visually similar.  I made up a storyline to go with the series to help give myself a little inspiration for shot ideas and to further play into the film noir style.  A lose plot line of three characters (Kitty, Veda, and Frank) emerged, and so I set out to capture a story that went a little something like this:

*Kitty is involved with Frank but wants to get rid of him.
*Kitty doesn’t want to get her hands dirty, so she hires Veda to off Frank.
*Veda falls for Frank and sleeps with him instead of offing him.
*Kitty decides if you want a job done right, you do it yourself.

And my efforts with Veda worked.  She became the most successful shot of the series and ultimately the most successful shot of my 365 project, garnering 254 Flickr favorites and 45 comments, to date.  Whether or not she was a success because of timing or just because the resulting shot was appealing doesn’t matter.  I enjoyed creating her.

Why Veda’s Important to Me
So while she was an audience success, what makes Veda so important to me to put her on the process list?  To start, she was my first “real” film noir style creation, setting off a chain reaction of film noir appreciation in my shots.  She was also the synthesis of story meets picture.  One of my favorite things in photography is creating and then attempting to capture a story.  Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.  But, I think Veda’s story worked.  After all, who doesn’t like a good story about femme fatals and jealous lovers?  And finally, Veda taught me that faking it (in terms of an inexpensive wig) *can* happen in the right light.

On a sidebar, Veda is also responsible for my having purchased my first *ever* pack of ciggys.  ;-)  She’s a sketchy influence, but I wouldn’t have her any other way.  To see more of my film noir inspired shots, check out my set of them on Flickr.


3 thoughts on “The Process Shots: Part 1 of 5 – Veda

  1. Pingback: The Process Shots: Part 2 of 5 – Where No One is Likely to Pass | photoblurg

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