In November and December, I took a masterclass with Tom McInvaille, one of the more established photographers here in Madison. Since this was during the time I was first getting involved with and exploring the possibilities of Google +, I didn’t think to write anything here, even though it would have been an outlet for some of the thoughts that I had during that time.
At any rate, the group of people was small, only 8, and they were all quite serious; so it was worthwhile and fascinating seeing each of us gradually grow in our expression during the eight weeks. Since we were all rather on the shy side, it also took a few sessions for our discussion / critiques to really open up. As we got to know each other, it became easier and we learned respect for each other’s vision.
One of the main points that Tom tried to instill in the class was the idea that idea precedes narrative. The photo above was for our second assignment, which was to “think locally and not globally — find large meaning in small things or ideas.” Although I do think about my photography a fair amount, much of it is perhaps more unconscious than explicitly stated. So thinking ahead before shooting, especially in the sense of preparing a set or situation, was not something that I have done a lot.
I knew that looking for idea and narrative in the local sense could best involve something in my own life. So it happened that during the week this was the assignment, my wife and I went on a small getaway to a bed and breakfast. While we were relaxing and she was puttering on the laptop and I was trying different things with the camera, she put her hand on mine and I snapped a photo. It was clear right away that this was probably the shot I’d want for class.
After loading it into Lightroom, I worked with it a fair amount, starting with a crop from 3:2 to 5:4, and then closing in on the shapes of the fingers and the details of the skin. After discussion with the class, people seemed to think that it needed a bit more cropping, so that is what I show here.
One of the longterm projects that I want to explore much more deeply is exactly this idea of close-ups of bodies, as here. I am interested not so much in personality, but more in the purely formal way that skin folds and creases, and how the various angles and shapes of limbs and curves can be made into abstractions. The roots of this probably go back to my study, beginning in the 1970s, of Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and Henry Callahan, to name a few.
There are other aspects of this that I will dig into at another time. This, though, shows an initial view into what I hope is a fruitful process.