Felix Kunze on Marlene Rose
Selecting a project is a challenge that
every photographer must face. Whether
you are a reporter for Time magazine or
an avid Flickr poster, we all need new
and exciting subjects. But how do you
learn to step outside of the comfort zone
and find new projects?
Fashion Eye On Glass
Humans are creatures of habit. We like our coffee a certain way, have our favorite restaurants, and have a tendency to take the same pictures. Self imitation is not reserved for amateurs, in fact it is a bigger problems for professionals. Some photographers like Timothy Greenfield-Sanders even admit, “I do take the same picture over and over again, but I think its an important picture.” He has made series on everyone from politicians to porn stars, but he uses an 8×10 view camera and one light. He seems happy with this, but for most other photographers the world the variety of the world is too much to resist.
There are a number of techniques for breaking the monotony of the typical shot. We can change cameras, take trip, or take on a completely different project. Felix Kunze sent me his recent essay on glass artist Marlene Rose. This is a departure from Felix’s typical portraiture which has a glossy fashion influence. In a cross over, he took his Vogue style and adapted it to a workshop of molten glass.
The History Of Work
Documenting people at work has been a major focus for artists since at least the 1500′s. Artists like Pieter Bruegel, Honore Daumier, Corot, and Van Gogh all painted pictures of people working. Once photography came on the scene, lenses replaced the brushes as a popular way to depict the conditions of the worker. Sebastiao Salgado shot miners, Cartier-Bresson shot office workers, and Edward Burtynsky shot the ship breakers. Work is a fascinating subject where raw energy is on display and often allows photographers to get inside the action. Since the “worker” is occupied with the task at hand, the photographer is free to move around, almost invisibly. The results vary from outright celebration of craft to bringing attention to abhorrent working conditions around the globe.
Fortunately for most of us, work happens everywhere. It is an easy project to access, most of the time. Unless you want to do a series on Customs Officers at an international airport, most working environments are willing, even excited to have someone interested in their craft. So if you are looking for a new project, it might be waiting down the street. The advantages of shooting people at work are endless. Here are a few ideas to consider about a working environment that are harder to find on the street.
- The subjects are too busy to be bother by a photographer. This is a great time to be using a camera without a flash. Using a flash, aside from casting an artificial light, will remind your subject they are being photographed.
- When people get caught up in work, they let down their guard. You will catch honest moments of frustration, excitement, and disappointment. As I artist I know first hand, stuff breaks and that emotions comes out no matter whose around.
- Your working schedule is predictable. If you decide to shoot fisherman, they will always leave the same time everyday. You can anticipate the lighting conditions and build time for the project more easily than random street shooting.
- People like flattery. When you take interest in someone’s work the feedback is usually fantastic. They will make all kinds of special accommodations to help your shoot.
- If you are looking to make the transition from amateur to professional, one way to build a portfolio is by taking on “Work Projects.” For example if you like sports cars, go to a sports car mechanic. This way, when you send your work to a car magazine you already have images that fit their profile. Its a win/win.
- The action at work is always changing. The new setting, new characters, and unique activities will perk up your sense and the difference will be visible in the images.
So if you are looking for a new direction or just want to refresh your current direction, go to work. And going to someone else’s job is more fun because you can leave whenever you feel like it.
Have a look at Felix as he wanders inside a glass studio to document the glass as it changes from lava to works of art. View the full essay here on:
[ Marlene Ross by Felix Kunze ]