I’m really enjoying my new nightlife project. I’m rediscovering my love of high impact Weegee style flash and hanging out on street corners smoking cigarettes late into the night. The plan is, after shooting in elementary schools all week, to drive into Boston on Friday nights and photograph the sexy young drunks who rove the city looking for love. So far it seems like ground zero for those tripping the night fantastic is the corner of Brighton and Harvard at the Blanchard liquor store in Allston.
“Howdy, can you come with me? Here give me your hand… give me your hand, now sit right on this stool, put your feet on this box ok, point your knees towards the light, there you go, sit up tall now, who’s my little pickle face, its you, come on Pickleface, sit up tall… big smiles now, oh my gosh, your a little pretzel head aren’t you, French Fries! Wow that was great, There you go, grandma’s gonna love it, have a nice day.”
You really have to see me do it, I raise my voice a couple octaves and kind of dance around avoiding all the cables and strobes. Imagine I’m playing with a wiggly dog, “who’s my little bonster the monster, you are. you are, you want a cookie… COOKIE”
I got a job shooting school portraits, I spent last week learning how to take pictures the Grynn and Barrett way. Three days in we finally got to shoot real live children and it was absolutely bizarre how the head of the photography division transformed into some kind of hopped up, amphetamine fueled, sesame street character, then slipped out of it to give us pointers on the finer aspects of getting shy children to sit still and smile like all the others. High capactity portraiture is the name of the game, one minute for normal kids, maybe 3 for the special needs, we have green screen cloth we can drape over the back of wheel chairs or aides who are holding the more spastic children still. Its all about rhythm they say, I believe it. During the training it was actually kind of fun sitting them up on the stool, giving directions in a funny excited voice while tripping the strobes without warning, then off to the next one in line and than the next one, and the next one… We learned all the tricks of the trade, how to pose people who are too fat, how to pose people who are too skinny, people with lazy eyes, the bald, people who suffer from albinism, preteen girls uncomforatble with their new breasts, preteen girls too proud of their new breasts and highschool douchbags.
We were given a rousing speech by the owner of the company, whose father founded it after coming home from WWII with a 4×5 camera he looted from a dead Nazi soldier, after storming the beaches of Normandy and single handedly liberating France. “You aren’t just taking pictures, you are immortalizing the love in a childs eyes for all time.” and apparently the best way to find the love in a childs eyes is to rattle off absurd but endearing petnames at a rapid clip. Fine by me “BANANA FISH, you’re my perfect little banana fish aren’t you, yes you are, yes you are, NOW SMILE! Great job… NEXT”
“Hey buddy are you in fucken Oasis? No seriously I love your hair, now come on… stand right there… no. no smiling, theres no smiling in art. theres no flashing the peace sign either, excuse me can you move… I’m just trying to take a picture of the long lost Gallagher brother over here, thanks… jesus I bet Avedon never had to put up with this shit”
Its also fun for me to be out and about with the beautiful young people who are suppose to be my peers, I always feel so out of place at parties and bars and such but with a camera I have a purpose. I heard an interesting interview with Tom Wolfe the other day, he said that when trying to document a certain subset of the population (Acid freaks, wall street traders etc.) its actually better to be the ‘Man from Mars’ than try in vain to fit in. The interested outsider in a vanilla ice cream suit has different access than some one who is trying to pass themselves off as just another participant in whatever ritual the kids these days are into. Thats how I try to go about it, a giant wierd camera from 50 years ago and a sweaty hulking body are my white suit. Who knows I might try calling the hot chicks in fuck me stilletoes Pickle Face this weekend.