IDEA

So I’ve got an idea, or maybe a rough idea, about some of the imagery I want to accumulate, throw into the stew that is my new project.

One of the things (if “things” is the correct word) I’m after is male and female flesh, bodies.

To this end I asked my friend Hannah if I might photograph her, her body. Sure, she said. Thank you very much, I replied.

Day of the shoot I went over to her place, we sat on the couch, talked a while. I tried to explain what I thought my idea was, why I wanted some flesh and bodies in the mix. The situation, then and there, seemed relaxed and interesting so I shot a frame.

But I was nervous to begin . . . what with having some pretty firm ideas about how and why photos of naked people should be used. In fact it feels a little weird posting these here. But there is a reason (I tell myself) for showing them, the duds and the ones that might, in the end, be useful. Just as there is (or might be) a reason why I need images like this at all.

Anyway, finally I gathered up my gumption and we moved to the bedroom and began.

To say the photos were bad would be an understatement, they seemed forced and stupid. My fault completely. (I’ve always maintained that when photographing people in a controlled situation the photographer is the only person who can make a mistake.)

Then I remembered how comfortable we had been sitting on the couch, talking. How that very first snap was so fresh and seemed real, and how I liked the way her eyes were cut off because I hadn’t been really looking or even trying.

So we moved back there . . .

And it felt closer to what I thought I had in mind.

But seen here, decontextualized from how it might be used in the project, it seems too blatant. I mean, I like the relaxed feeling and the fact the eyes were cut off (and that extra eye on her arm). The look on Hannah’s face works for me too. Maybe in the end I’ll be needing images like this. For now, for me, that’s reason enough to try.

And finally we did this . . .

And I thought, yes, that’s what I meant. It strikes me as maybe a viable piece of my project, which is a puzzle that, at this point, is undefined. But I think that this image provides, somehow, a piece of some definition.

I had set out to photograph flesh but it’s this photograph that embodies, for me, the feeling (and maybe even the meaning) of what I think I’m after.

Goes to show that what you think you want, what you think might be important, might not be what you want or what’s important.

Of course, these are early days and I’m not ruling anything out at this point. My job now is to make sure I’ve turned over as many stones as necessary to ensure I have enough “right” images to make the project work. And by work I mean to create a sequence that points in the direction of, and somehow defines, my idea. An idea which I’m still not going to say out loud.

OTTAWA NOTES

Not much to note in the KapitalCityPhotoScene this week. Next week, though, there’ll be some good stuff to report. And so it goes . . .

In the meantime, what about your project? Does it want to become a book? If it does then this workshop is for you.

A Practical Guide to Publishing a Photobook. It takes place at SPAO, July 20th. That’s a Saturday.

You’ll learn:

  • Why you should make a photobook and how to organize your images in a way that makes sense.
  • The various tools, both online and physical, you can use to work on your book.
  • How to make dummies (working prototypes) of your book as it evolves.
  • The steps you should take to refine the look and feel of the book.
  • The various means available to have your book printed.
  • And a lot of other stuff you’ve probably never considered, like how the weight of the book affects shipping charges, how to source packaging materials to make the delivery/distribution of your book more professional, and ways and means to publicize your book.

Go here to sign up.

Cover and page spreads of Official Ottawa
Printed on newsprint
2000 free copies distributed across Canada

Author: Tony Fouhse

Tony is an Ottawa-based photographer.