The other week I got a comment that is not at all unusual, simply saying that I should try new things so as to not get stale. I get comments like this frequently enough and they are usually respectful hints that my style might be getting a bit old. Now granted I also get comments saying that my portfolio is too diverse, as I have heard that from a few galleries, so neither can be taken too seriously. If I were to try and please everyone, I would fail. Some would be pleased while more would not be. And what’s more, I would be serving others instead of myself.
Creatively, I watch my own back. I create what I want to create, when I want to create it. And I don’t mean for that to sound selfish, but simply factual and smart. I say “smart” not because I think I’m some genius, but because the only reaction to our art that we can rely on is our own. If no one were watching, it would be all that matters. And so I create under that pretense – that I must love my art first, and then hope that it is embraced by others in some way.
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “Time to do something new.”
And so I set out in my imagination to conjure something up I had never thought of before. A technique, an idea, a location…anything.
My mind wandered to an image that I had half-heartedly pressed before, but not truly delved into. I wanted to make it look like I was coming out of a thick fog, or another dimension. Something between the two, as I would later tell my husband. He and I talked it through – how it could be created – and then I continued working on the why.
If you know me, you know I am a stickler for the why. I don’t care how neat a technique is to try if I don’t know why I’m creating. The why came simply: I wanted to create a wall between worlds, to literally step through from one side to the other. I also liked the idea of being sucked back into the world I was trying to emerge from. All of this intention informed how I would pose.
I photographed my body in a kiddie pool that I purchased for the shoot. I rigged my camera on my balcony so that I could shoot with some distance. I sunk black fabric in the pool so that the background would be dark, and then I poured soy milk in the pool for a murky effect. It didn’t take much soy milk, and soon the pool was murky and dark at the same time.
I knew I would be photographing a forest as the eventual backdrop, which is already very dark, so I thought that the murky background of darkness from the pool would transfer well to the forest.
It was important that I photograph myself in water to create believable water lines on my body. It is one thing to blur and obscure fabric and skin behind a wall of fog, but quite another to recreate water lines (or in this case, “other dimension/fog” lines) on skin especially. So I photographed myself in the pool and then made sure to photograph the forest from the same angle. The two images blended nicely, and I sampled the murky color to paint over the forest as well.
With different blending techniques and some cutting my body started to blend into the forest. After some shading, it seemed complete. I wanted the color palette to be simple and striking, so I chose to stick with red and blue as the main colors in the image. Texture only in the background helped to give the fog some grit that I felt made it more believable, and then I was finished.
All in all, this image took me…
3 hours of planning
2 hours of setup
1 hour of shooting
12 hours of editing
…And I had a blast! I hope that you enjoy the finished product, and that, if nothing else, you are inspired to try something new and see where it leads you!