or... The Unexpected Virtue of Ignoring Your Bank Account
(Note: This is a continuation of yesterday's blog post, So Now What. Be sure to read that one first, and subscribe for more!)
So having said that, I also understand that sometimes you just need to suck it up and shoot something. I mean, you're a photographer aren't you? So shoot something. Luckily for me, two models who I had previously worked with in 2014 and 2015 (Brianna and Renae respectively) reached out to collaborate again this year, which certainly helped get the creative juices flowing since my inspiration for street photography seemingly took a vacation.
With Brianna, we came up with a dream-sequence concept based on the ideas I'd explore thematically in my screenplays, and combined them with a lingerie shoot. Because, why not? And we absolutely loved the result. This didn't solve the whole financial issue however, but luckily I was able to book a few timely shoots in Tampa right after, so proceeds from those went directly into getting this shoot developed. But sometimes such a lucky break doesn't come in time, and you're stuck going into yet more debt to feed that insatiable film habit. So then what happens when the next opportunity of creative expression comes around? Well, that's when you suck it up and shoot, because you never know what you might get out of it.
The Birth of the Basquiat Bodyscape Series
If you'll remember my shoot with Renae last year, we ended up doing a body paint series since she herself was a painter. (Whenever I shoot portraits, I try to find subtle ways of incorporating some aspect of the subject's personality into the environment or mood of the photos. And sometimes they aren't that subtle). That was my first time using paint for a photoshoot, and the results were incredible. We were both really happy with the shoot and had already begun brainstorming for our next collaboration.
The conversation carried over into this year, naturally after I had decided to take a hiatus, and we again settled on something using paint, but this time we'd shoot the concept in a pool (read: bathtub) of colored water. Which to me, sounded like the perfect way to end our last shoot. Imagine seeing the paint spatter dissolving off of Renae and becoming part of a deep blue pool of water. But I didn't want to do (read: pay for) exactly the same thing twice. Film costs add up pretty quickly for us starving artists, so if I was going to shoot again I'd definitely need to get something entirely new out of it.
Then, I had an epiphany, or maybe I just heard the right Jay-Z song at the right time, but for some reason I thought of Basquiat's Obnoxious Liberals...
The name, the color combination, the theme and the social message combined with the state our society is in currently, Renae's personality, all of it just seemed to click. As soon as I saw it, I knew that was it, that was our shoot. And so we began... Because why not?
I reinterpreted Basquiat's work as a portrait-orientation body painting on Renae. And while I don't consider myself a painter, what I may lack in technical prowess of the medium, I certainly make up for in pattern recognition and hand-eye coordination. The result, well, you tell me...
(Photos of the full shoot coming soon!)
But it didn't stop there. Upon shooting this series, once Renae got into the water and the painting began to dissolve, I had yet another epiphany. There was something else hidden in these photos, a style and composition technique I've yet to experiment with at all as a photographer: the bodyscape. Bodyscape photography typically involves photographing the human body as if it were a landscape, or focusing on the contours of the human figure or one particular body part. So the more I shot the more I started to look at composition much differently, and it was in this process that the true purpose of this shoot began to take shape.
But it didn't stop there. It was only the above two compositions that lead me to the true revelation of style made here. I'll save those photos for another time, because what's important is what happened next. Now, this is where the "just suck it up and shoot it" came into play, because one week after I shoot this with Renae, I had my second exhibit opening at the Exchange Room Gallery at UCLA. It was through this show that the potential of a solo gallery for my work became clear, so when I pitched the idea of "blending Basquiat-inspired abstract body painting with bodyscape-style portraiture, creating photos where skin, water, and paint become indistinguishable from one another," lets just say it was received with more than subtle enthusiasm.
The moral of the story is, some investments are worth it. Never forget that one of the most positively influential and life-changing things you can do while on this planet is invest in yourself. Remember the analogy of the guy pulled over on the side of the road? It wasn't until he got out and started pushing his own car that other people stopped to help. Now if anybody needs me, I've got a gallery exhibit to design.