What happens when you head into a photo shoot with an expectation in your mind about what you are going to see and shoot and the reality of the event is light years from your expectations?
There is a small log cabin in town that is about to be moved or demolished. It’s located on a main road so if you are heading to the west side of town you are likely to pass by it. It’s quaint and it has always tweaked my curiosity. You know someone lives there, but who and what’s their story. What makes them stay in such a small home, how did they come to live there? What is the history of this place that is so out of time with the other homes in the area?
I got a call the other day from a friend who saw a development notice posted on the property - yes, I am most certainly interested in photographing the place before it’s gone forever. With the help of another friend it comes together that I could possibly have access to the interior of the house as well. Great! My mind races with the possibilities. It’s set. I plan my shoot. I’ve got a grin on my face in the frosty temperatures as I shoot the exterior while waiting to get inside.
|Then the reality of the situation sets in. It’s a disaster, I’m anticipating old dilapidated charm but the truth is so far from anything charming. It’s filth and decay. So sad. I shoot anyway. This was someone’s home, they dreamed their dreams here and made their life here. I must respect that.|
Going through the images of the shoot I think to myself – what the hell can I do with these? The exterior has it's charm, It’s from another time, albeit deteriorating due to time and weather. I must look beyond the big picture and seek answers in the details.
The living room – what a wonderful window for this room, it is almost the entire length of the room. Look beyond the big picture and focus on the details. In this case it’s not what is inside but what is outside.
The front door - there are wide gaps around the uneven frame that must have allowed icy winter winds free access to the occupants inside. I focus on the Yale lock, how many nights did it click securely allowing those inside to sleep in peace?
The bedroom – gone are reminders of the homeowner, nothing left but a few forgotten bits of handmade jewelry and the lacy window coverings that tell me someone once cared for this place.
The bathroom – when this home was built indoor plumbing was probably non-existent. The demolition has already begun here and little of this place remains to document.
The kitchen – once the heart of the home, but now the heart is gone from this place and only distant memories of it remain. It may have been cute in it's day, with sunlight shining in through the generous window. Now the light is filtered through layers of accumulated grunge and what does make it’s way into the room only serves to light some long forgotten pay records and the decay that has befallen this place.
Lesson one – I’ve gotten into the habit of reviewing my camera settings as I prepare to set out on a shoot based on the light and conditions of the day. This shoot though involved a significant change of conditions, outside to inside and hand held to using a tripod. Unfortunately, I did not turn off the Vibration Reduction setting on my lens when I started using the tripod – mistake! VR should only be used when hand holding.
Lesson two – keep an open mind about where you are headed and what you are likely to see. It will help to minimize disappointments.
Lesson three – not all images need to be pretty pictures. Pictures need to tell a story and maybe the ones that are harder to achieve tell a more powerful story.
Lesson four – don’t judge, you don’t know the whole story.
What happens when you head into a photo shoot with an expectation in your mind about what you are going to see and shoot and the reality of the event is light years from your expectations? You carry on and make the best you can of your situation. Something I heard with regards to sports may also apply here, you learn more from a tough game, one in which you are challenged rather than in one that is an easy win.
Until next time!