saturday, june 21, 2008

Hitting The Dunes

DriftingI began my first series of shoots out at the dunes this week.  It is a bit later in the season than I'd planned, but the weather has been working against me, between the rain and the temperatures, but everything was looking up more this week.

I've been out there about three days this week, and did one shoot.  I'm hoping to get out there again today to do a little more scouting.  The area is so vast, and there are really so many hidden gems out there... I'd hate to overlook something. 

The style of photography is a bit different than what I've been doing over the past few months (hybrids, manipulations, digital work), in that it is much more straight forward, less manipulated, and more based on observing a scene, taking in the lighting, shadows, shapes, landscape, and then composing it into a workable photo.  The process is probably, similar to the purity and instinctiveness you'd experience in the "old days" of  working with film.  It is a refreshing change.

Posing is something of a different animal with this type of photography as well, and presents some new challenges.  I found an article a few years ago, which I've hung on to, by Norm La Coe, one of the masters of the environmental nude.  Anyway, his article is on "emotion", posing, and some obvious "rules".  His article, "Emotion", is over here.  A few other masters of this style of photography are Eric Boutilier-Brown, a Canadian photographer who's work I've admired since college, and Gerhardt Thompson, another true master of his trade, and David Swanson.  And of course, there are many more, those just being the top three places I stop by for inspiration.

I began exploring the dunes after college, when I had my first "real" job in the area.  The dunes were only a 20 minute drive from my office, so I'd head over there at least once a week and hike until the park closed.  I shot thousands of frames of film out there, just of the landscape and various things I'd find.  Sometime after this, I came up with the idea of the "bear naked" project.  Perhaps, simply as something entirely different than what you'd see in this area, maybe shake things up, etc.  At the time, my perception of the art scene in Traverse City was limited to freezer magnets and drive-by tourist art - however, since being introduced to such groups and galleries as the Art Center Traverse City, Art Works Alliance, InsideOut Gallery, that perception has shifted somewhat - this was ten years ago, at least and I think the town as a whole had a much more touristy feel to it (the centerpiece restaurant in downtown was Big Boy, at that time).  But I digress...

My biggest hurdle thus far has been finding people to participate.  Having my advertising shut down in the Express more or less cut the legs out of any momentum I had with those efforts, so it's pretty much become a word of mouth thing. I will say that being censored on the basis of artistic content, yet advertising things such as strip clubs seems to have a slight feel of hypocrisy...

Last year I began seriously working on this project, applied for all of the government permits and permission to take on such an endevour, which I felt was necessary since it is government land, I didn't want any problems from "The Man".  Going back again this year, it is interesting to see how much the sands have shifted in just one year - things that were there last year, are not there this year, and other objects and formations have appeared.  I think that one of the evolving themes of this project will be the passage of time, as a result.  There are a few areas which play well into this idea, such as the Oneida ruins, and other similar areas.

Thus far, I've kept all of my images mostly under wraps, hoping to release them all at once when the project is complete.  My goal is to get at least 100 very good images - and I'm being extremely selective about what I choose to go into this project.  My goal is to put this into a book, and also a show featuring the images.  We're probably about a year out at this point.  I may start showing some work in limited form in advance.  I'm debating that still...

More to come.