Photography is such an important part of (for want of a better term) Competitive Art! I like applying to shows and sending images to be considered for publication. I like competitive events for beaders. It pushes me to produce my best work. To dig a little deeper to find a solution to a design problem. To meet a deadline. To place my work in the world for others to see. To see the work of other artists, and to be elevated and inspired by that work. But none of this is possible, if all you have is your art; in my case, beadwork. You need a means to send it out to be looked at. And that means, photography. Something I fake my way through. This must stop. So I have made a committment to buying a new camera, with more than the 4.1 megapixel capability of my obsolete Kodak. And taking a class (or maybe many classes) to learn how to use it.
But despite my photographic inadequacies, I LOVED working with a skilled model, Jana Merten, to try to capture the essence of "Missing."
The series of photos I am showing you, takes me exactly where I want "Missing" to take a viewer. Somewhere "in-between" worlds. Somewhere wistful. Somewhere, lost in a forest. Somewhere not quite precisely here, or exactly there. Somewhere quiet and peaceful, but just a little nebulous. So when we out shooting at the park, and I spied a patch of dappled sunlight, I thought, THERE! And Jana was willing to wade into the weeds and shrubby growth and make it look amazing.
I realize there are shadows that a professional photographer could and would light differently. But I like those shadows. And I like the image above with Jana's face entirely in shadow, because for me, it points to the piece instead of the gorgeous model, while she supports the jewelry magnificently.
I love this one and the next, below, because "Missing" is actually visible on Jana's face. Above, there is a reflection on her chin from the Swarovski crystals, and below, on her upper lip.
But. enough with this dappled light mania of mine. I shot first in direct sunlight, which was awful. There were dark shadows beneath Jana's chin, and stress on her face from the ridiculously bright light. SO... we went to the shade, and there was still plenty of sunshine to light both model and "Missing" clearly. But for me, it was TOO clear, and maybe even a little obvious. And "Missing" is not obvious. Most people need to understand the title to understand the work, but hopefully, even for those who do not know the full story, it has a an unmistakable quality of emptiness, maybe a little sadness and perhaps, some mystery.
Let me backup a bit. This piece is my entry in a facebook event, (brainchild of Steven Weiss) Battle of the Beadsmith. It is a single elimination tournament, with 80 beaders from around the world. Please like us on facebook and watch us battle here! There are just 20 of us left, and the third round of battle is getting underway as I write this. Each round requires a new photo of the work. Eek! Thankfully, Jana volunteered to help me. In addition to being a client and a friend, Jana is a pro. Her large and perfect features, great body, hair and makeup skills, and modeling experience were a godsend. She knows many shots at subtly different angles and with tiny changes of expression are needed to arrive a a few good results.
After shooting in the dappled sun, I wanted to try a more casual look for "Missing," with a print dress, and a more relaxed setting at my fire pit. Again, Jana indulged me, and I'm pleased with the result. IF I should be fortunate enough to survive the cut from 20 artists to 10, then maybe, one of these is the next photo, but that's a bridge I will cross only when and if I get to it.
Whatever the outcome of the Battle, this blog post is meant both to share with you Jana's amazing work, and to thank her for her time, her patience, her flexibility, and her great kindness to me. I so appreciate it! Find Jana's website here, and check out her dancing and makeup tutorial YouTube videos here.