this is a very personal series for me. it was a way for me to vent my frustrations with religions in general, but with a strong focus on the catholic religion i was made to adopt as a child. it is about the frustration and hypocrisy i saw when i was in church, catechism, confirmation. the fear, anger, intolerance. i have always felt chained by religion, and my faith was drawn out of fear from the hands of an angry god, fear of that which i cannot control. when i grew older and it became clear to me that i had no faith in any higher power, any diety, the chains tightned. i grew up in conservative/religious pocket of southern california. it is not cool to be an atheist, but i have never been cool, so i do not know why that bothered me. but when the subject of religion came up i never really gave a straight answer. i somehow convinced myself that i would not be accepted for this difference, even though apparantly it was pretty obvious to those who really knew me. but i am proud now. of who i am , and what i do and do not belive in. i am not scared or ashamed. if people don't like me or want to hire me because i do not fit exactly into the mold they want me to, then they do not matter.
I'd been pondering doing some Lego homages to my favorite movies and a few days ago discovered I had everything I needed to make Lego versions of the Marx brothers. So, I decided to go old school and make a movie poster-esque homage to one of my absolute favorite movies: Monkey Business. If you've not yet seen it, do so. It's hysterical.
The concept behind my series of photographs was to create a fictional reality, through the use of photographic techniques, which produce ghost photos. Photographs have, for many years, been treated as irrefutable evidence, that something occurred or existed and one of the most prominent examples of this is the proof of supernatural beings - particularly ghosts.
Ghost photos became prominent in the early 20th century and since then, have managed to convince many people that ghosts exist; a recent study showed that almost a third of Americans believe in ghosts. If the reason for this is so-called photographic evidence, then why not prove how easy it is to replicate the same effect, without the use of post-processing?
To create a series of photographs, that incorporate elements of both ghost photos and dynamic, studio photography, without the use of post-processing. (Obviously, contrast and colour adjustments were made, however, the transparency of the models was achieved in-camera.)
I did a trial shoot at the start of this term to ensure that I was able to execute my idea. I shot one of my models in a single location and experimented with different effects. I placed the camera on a tripod, connected it to my Mac (so that I could shoot remotely) and set the lights so that until they were fired, the area was pitch black. I also placed some mirrors in the garden, to bounce some of the light back at my model. I used 30-second exposures and multiple flash fires to achieve the transparent look, without any noticeable light trails.
The trial shoot was a success, so I booked the lights out again for November 2nd. I planned on shooting 5 different models, in 6 different locations and set everything up so that when they arrived, we could immediately start shooting. However, at approximately 9pm, just after the sun had set and I was in the process of setting up my lights and taking test shots, it started to rain - heavily. It rained so much that I wasn't even able to shoot under my veranda, let alone outside.
It was a disaster and it was clear that in spite of what I was told, it wasn't going to stop any time soon. So after much deliberation, I decided to shoot in my kitchen. Fortunately I had enough models that I didn't have to worry too much about all of the shots looking exactly the same, but on that note, it would have been nice to change the background and scenery for each shot. I made the most of what I had.
I cleared the area, had the models finish their make-up and costumes and after spending almost an hour getting the dramatic lighting I wanted, I started shooting - at 10:30pm.
I had so much to do in so little time, so I had someone fire the flash for me as the models ran in and out of the frame, posing with different partners each time. Some of the photographs look quite violent - I wanted to portray the notion that ghosts are the effect of traumatic deaths, where the victims are unable to rest in peace. The less violent shots are symbolic of death (the white theatre masks) or more aesthetically focussed - even though the models are still transparent.
I ended up with a series of 10 photographs, entitled "People Are So Transparent" - an allusion to the fact that society is no longer as easily fooled by technical trickery as it once was.