Recently I (Dale) had the opportunity to participate in an art project titled “Naked in the House”. A group of photographers participated in this project and the rules were quite simple. We each had 30 minutes and 10 polaroids to come up with 2 interesting photographs of a naked model… in a house, of course. I was definitely in over my head. We don’t shoot much fashion at all and I haven’t photographed any nudes since I was in school. I did however like the idea of being out of my comfort zone, makes us better photographers, I think??
I had a quick tour of the house and met the model. I decided to photograph one shot of her laying on her stomach on the bed. The plan was to not show too much, leaving more to the imagination.
I had my camera and light meter all ready to go. I was planning on using our 4 by 5 view camera but I soon realized it was medium format polaroid film we were shooting instead of 4 by 5… my first mistake. I quickly grabbed an instant camera that was provided and took a photo, with the videographer documenting the whole time. Down to about 20 minutes when I pull the first polaroid. Completely black! I turn the exposure dial to lighten and shoot another photo… second mistake, as I found out after that lighten actually meant darken?? I pulled the next polaroid and it’s black too. Not panicking yet, I use another camera that was there. It was some sort of 4 by 5 camera but quite different from anything I’ve ever used before.
The ground glass didn’t seem to rotate so the dark slide had to be accessed from the bottom up and it was flexible. Regardless, I set up a shot and get an exposure. Great. Not what I wanted but I fiddle a little more, but I’m nervous as I’m trying to figure out this camera, with a naked woman laying on a bed and a video guy in my face. I take two more photos. Great. I got a decent simple shot, nothing award winning, but classic. As I put the dark slide into the camera, the end of it breaks. Now down to about 10 minutes I have to decide what to do. Only 3 polaroids left. If I take out the stuck dark slide to look through the camera, I will expose a polaroid each time so in reality I would only have 2 shots left. I decide instead to use my arms to measure the distance from the camera to the model to guess at the focus. I still remember the look on her face watching me wondering what the F&^% I’m doing. We change locations quickly and I put the camera down where I think it should be, use my arms as the focus distance and shoot. I proceed to shoot the last three photos the same. Basically shooting without being able to look thru the camera or focus. In the end I got an okay shot.
The experience was nerve-wracking but in the end I had to laugh… technical disaster, but a good reminder to always know your gear before you shoot. Thanks to Brent Mykytyshyn for organizing and putting it all together.
Here’s the two shots that were in the show and the video of the behind the scenes of all the shooter. And by the way, both shots ended up placing 2nd in a three way tie. Who knew?