Friday, May 04, 2007

arresting beauty

Since possibly forever, I have had this love/hate relationship with fashion imagery, fueled by the dueling impossible to attain beauty standards set as a precedent and the impossibly delicious creativity that erupts from it constantly. It is difficult to even write this much about it, because of how much the fashion industry and the media that support and expose it make us hate ourselves for the ways our bodies cannot ever be and the things too expensive or uncomfortable to own or use. Yet as a subject matter it remains compelling, if intimidating, territory.

I made a tiny sidestep towards conquering my fear of it this last weekend: I assisted Mr. D while he was shooting a couple of his friends who are putting together a stylist's portfolio of outfits they have created. I have, as a designer, worked on fashion as well as beauty-related projects. I understand the differing aesthetic needs of photography for both.

sing © Laura Kicey

I brought my equipment, to the asbestos factory, where we were to shoot, thinking I might take some photos of random stuff I stumble upon and maybe sneak in some portraits of the girls, since they're there and I have been unintenionally avoiding shooting people for months in seems.

back to the wind
back to the wind © Laura Kicey

D had brought a bare bones setup, one small softbox, an inverter and a reflector disc. We started shooting in the main hall of the power plant. The sunlight was fairly intense, and coming through the remnants of the window panes, cast a stunning grid of shadows all round. The way made the girls' hair shine was fairly fantastic on its own, but getting an exposure that wouldn't leave their faces deeply underepoxsed was a challenge, since I had no other light source to work with. And I was just playing anyway, seeing if I might catch something nice.

kick © Laura Kicey

It was interesting to work with two models with completely different demeanors and levels of 'experience' in front of the camera, getting a feel for what each needed in terms of guidance from the photographer.... finding what made them feel comfortable or awkward, trying to bolster confidence so that even if they weren't completely at ease, they could fake it convincingly. Even if that meant that to get them to stop worrying so much about how they looked, they would have to worry that the photographer was going to take a step backward and fall into a gaping, 15 foot deep hole and perish. That tactic actually worked.

silver © Laura Kicey

We had just decided after about 3 hours of shooting in the power plant, that we might consider another building. We packed up and started heading back from whence we came, Not really considering the fact that the strobe flashes would make our presence known, we walked by one of the large holes where a window had once been and spied a cop car, pulling to a halt.

flight two
flight two © Laura Kicey

Though I was out of view, I walked out to the ledge to speak to the officer. Quivering with nerves. He explained how he had seen a flash and thought it was nothing, sunlight catching on something, but then saw it repeatedly and needed to check it out... how it was dangerous in there and we really shouldn't be in there. So I offered to him how I had aquired permission from the owner to be there and how we don't hold him liable for any tumbles we might take and that we are not there to destroy anything just take photos, as evidenced by our mountain of equipment. He took my info and recommended that I let them know beforehand when we would be planning to shoot there in the future so if any dead bodies turned up our whereabouts were accounted for.

away from home
away from home © Laura Kicey

He took down my information, didn't ask us to leave and we all went on our way and continued to shoot. I fully expected to hear from the woman who I had asked for permission to enter the premises, as it was a two+ year old request... or to hear from the cops again. But. Nothing. Almost a week later.

tether © Laura Kicey

Being at the asbestos factory is always, in and of itself, a mixed experience. The fears of the inherent health-related dangers I attempt to bury about the place. The fact that I am actually allowed to go in and photograph it in all its decaying glory (which most urbexxers would probably find disgraceful). The filth and the beauty. Seems fashion and this abandoned gem were made for each other... chalked up to oddly guilty pleasure.

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Blogger Michael K. said...

Swell. Next you'll have a cocktail party in there. "I'll have another martini. Why can't I breathe?"

1:10 PM, May 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you the one who designed everything? That's awesome!!! I love the hair on the first girl... and I believe it's the same hair style on the fifth picture too, right? I went to school for fashion for a little bit but I couldn't handle all the competition in there. But if you did the hair on these girls, ever consider being a hair stylist? That hair style reminds me of one of the episodes on "Shear Genius" which airs on Bravo every Wednesday at 10pm. The short boyish yet girly look. Right now, they're giving away a trip to NYC for a full make-over. I know this because I work with them. Check out Good Luck!!!

3:06 PM, May 10, 2007  
Blogger helveticaneue said...

I can't take credit for the stylist work. These photos, which I *did* take are for the two girls' stylist portfolios.

3:29 PM, May 10, 2007  

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