The first really concept-heavy photoshoot for me took place in May last year, when I put on a Creative Director hat (in addition to photographing) for the shoot “Darkness”. After putting off processing it for some time, I finally did it near the end of 2013 and did a limited release on my Facebook page. The delay turned out to be a good thing as it allowed me to look at the photos from a fresh perspective, and allowed me to use an updated set of skills for the post-processing.
Many thanks to Alana Hehalana for agreeing to a shoot based off my vague descriptions and hopeless stick figure drawings, and for providing the outfit, wig, makeup, as well as the ball jointed doll, and as usual, flawless posing. Thanks also to Nabari for helping with the shoot (a lot of smoke handling) and the logistics, and Alan, for helping with rigging during the shoot.
For those firmly rooted in logic and science, and with an allergic reaction to the exploration of ideas and theory, here might be a good place to end your reading, because this post is more about the narrative concept than the technical/behind the scenes aspect of this shoot.
With a minimalist circus type theme, the shoot is titled Darkness because it is what visually dominates the frame. It was also a technical exploration of darkness for me.
I wondered at a world where illumination was seen as the norm. The day is the active part of most people’s lives. Lights banish the night from our homes and cities.
But for large expanses of the universe, darkness dominates. Though, darkness is never really total, if you were floating, alone, in one of the vast pockets of space between stars and planets, you would be shrouded in darkness.
By drawing the black-out curtains, the studio becomes a blank canvas. Darkness becomes the norm, the neutral base from which we start.
Photographers make the choice all the time: what to illuminate, and what to hide in darkness. But here, in the gloom, the choice of what to reveal and what to hide became a much more conscious act. As a sparse and limited resource, light became an active agent. In a sense, it became the main character.
Light is the medium we work with – without it, we would see nothing, capture nothing. Culturally, light is connoted with good, darkness with evil – and this association is even encoded into our language.
But if darkness is the norm, or the neutral state of things, then perhaps light, as our active agent, can take on the duality of good and evil.
(Though the logical side of myself would immediately see light itself as just another neutral state of things, without burdening it with morality. But bear with me – these concepts aren’t meant to be constructive arguments; they’re simply explorations of ideas, subjective, fanciful, and tied to the emotional state of the thinker – myself, 7 months in the past.)
Even as it reveals, illuminates, enlightens, light tempts the moth to the deadly flame.
Light blinds, disorientates. It leads us astray with mirages and deceptive reflections.
But for the same evils that light visits upon us, it also vanquishes them.
Drawn back to the light, we awaken from the dreams of madness.
And all that remains is the blank canvas of darkness, interrupted only by a small glimmer of light.