Studio portraits - white background

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by Jazz, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. Jazz

    Jazz TPF Noob!

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    Shortly after 9/11/01, I invited everyone in my apartment building to come to our studio, which is in the building on the first floor, and have their portrait made, one apartment at a time. The concept was to hang all the prints of everyone in our building, at one time, in one space. We normally only see each other in passing or on the elevator for a few seconds. It was a rewarding project, and people seemed to appreciate the effort. Here's a couple of the photos, along with a digital poster I eventually made of the whole group of 29 separate photos.

    I wanted the same exact lighting setup for everyone, so that the lighting would get out of the way and not be an issue. We would all be out there, exposed, with no shadows to hide in. So I decided on a white background with medium softbox for main light, a small softbox with soft grid (above) for hairlight and two background lights, one on each side. Four lights total. I shot with a Hasselblad (150mm f4 lens) on Ilford Delta 100. The exposure was at f11 (incident reading from face) and the background exposure on white seamless was f16.5 (reflective).

    Of the 43 apartments in our building, the residents of 29 apartments agreed to participate. Some are just a single person and some are entire families. When they arrived for their shoot, I gave them very minor instructions. I told them where to stand, and that I wanted to see their hands. This was important, as I think the way people hold their hands can be revealing and even a little artistic (uh-oh). I guided them through a few poses, but each shoot was no more than 15 minutes or so. It took about 6 weeks to photograph everyone.

    I developed the film and then made an 11x14 b&w fiber print (selenium toned) of each negative, and mounted them on foamcore, and velcroed them to the wall in our basement hallway, which leads to the laundry room and recycling room (hey, space is hard to come by in NYC!). We had a photo show opening in the basement in February of 2002 with wine & cheese and lots of people showed up.
    (The pregnant lady in the 2nd photo had a delightful little girl who turns 5 tomorrow.)

    All comments are welcome.


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  2. Puscas

    Puscas TPF Noob!

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    That's great! Too bad this happened a few years ago, otherwise I would have stopped by to take a look. Wow, good idea and well executed. I don't care too much about the funny poses on some of them, but hey, that happens right?


    thanx for sharing!




    pascal
     
  3. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    What an amazing outcome. I love this idea and you executed it very well. Thanks so much for sharing these with us!
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think that is/was a fantastic idea and you seem to have carried if off very well. You could pitch this idea to other buildings/apartments and end up doing it for the next 50 years...but of course, doing it in your own building is so much more personal.
     
  5. castrol

    castrol TPF Noob!

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    Wow.

    I am not really sure why this happened.

    I scrolled throught your story reading it ever so carefully. As I got to the photos
    my thoughts were "Wow, what an amazing idea..." Then I scrolled a bit further
    and saw the final photo with everyone in it. I looked at it, leaned foward
    here at my desk to get a closer look and all of the sudden I felt this feeling.
    It started in my throat and sort of choked me. It began a burning sensation
    that ran up my face and into my eyes where they began to swell with tears.

    I can't explain this response. I certainly don't understand it, but that kind
    of stuff doesn't happen to me often.

    Just thought I would share. I wish you had a larger shot of the group.

    ~castrol
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    What a great idea! Bravo! I love that composite and all the personality it shows.
     
  7. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    That really IS a great idea and it's great that you showed that kind of involvment with your building.

    I don't mind the funny ones, it adds a happy personality to it to break the 'serious' portriats.
     
  8. emogirl

    emogirl TPF Noob!

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    fantastic..thanks for sharing this@
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Do you have a larger version? I'd really like to see it in more detail.
     
  10. Jazz

    Jazz TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for the kind words. Castrol - thank you especially for sharing that very human feeling. I want to add that you are not the first to say that.

    Perhaps I should have mentioned that one or two of the "funny" poses actually have some meaning. One woman's job is traveling the world recruiting performers for the Asia Society, so she is in an asian dance position. There's a couple who build and repair violins and cellos, which brings a little meaning to their poses. Of course, some are exactly as was said, just funny. :mrgreen:
     
  11. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    I agree, I'd love to see it larger!

    I think this is such a great idea because bringing neighbors together is no small task these days. Seems like I haven't been friends with my neighbors since I was little. Were the people in your building already friendly with each other? Or did this project help them to start talking with each other?

    I also think it was a great idea to do it right after 9/11 since people were suddenly so scared of each other and everyone kind of realized that we don't stop to get to know each other anymore.

    Really neat idea!
     
  12. Jazz

    Jazz TPF Noob!

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    Markc - I don't know if it's appropriate. I thought I remember reading that photos on this forum should be no more than 600 to 800 px wide, and so I used 750, I think. Maybe a mod could advise?

    AprilRamone - There's a fine edge to relationships between neighbors in NYC apt buildings. We like our space, even if it is only a very small space. But yes, this project definitely opened things up and brought us closer, no question. I made good friends who I didn't know at all before this project.

    The idea came from an image I saw on the local news one day. The entire exterior wall of an apt building collapsed (it happens more than you'd think), and the images on the news showed the apartments inside, and how close they all were, all lined up, people within inches of each other for years and years, but they may never have spoken. Then, after 9/11 happened, it seemed the right time to do it. Thanks.
     

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