Yesterday Me2 talked about one of the amazing locations we were privileged to shoot in while on the island of Vaxholm; Oskar-Frederiksborg. He hinted at the specialness of the location and the beauty of the light within, which only reinforces one of the lessons I had to re-learn at the #baltictoysafari. When you are shooting toys in a natural environment, your photography is merely a reflection of a particular time and a place.
While at first glance this simple observation doesn’t seem like it would be a problem, but for me it was. How was I going to create images that were totally my own, images that reflected my personal photographic sensibility while on Me2’s home turf?
It’s not like I haven’t been photographing with other toy photographers before; Las Vegas, Portland and all over the Pacific Northwest to be exact. Even when the photographs from the Las Vegas toy safari are so distinctive in their landscape that I can pick them out from my Instagram feed immediately, it never bothered me. I think the difference is, the locations I mention are all neutral territory.
The weekend of the #BalticToySafari was different and it was very challenging. Every time I looked through my view finder I kept seeing a Me2 photo. It didn’t matter if I was on his dock photographing my toys in the fading light, or laying on the grass in front of the Vaxholm castle at dawn, or in a green lush, overgrown fort, the ghosts of Me2’s photos followed me everywhere.
Once I got my head around the problem I got to work finding a solution. First I chose mini figures that aren’t frequently seen in Me2’s photographs, then I tried to find territory that I hadn’t seen in his work. I frequently had to I change directions or locations if I saw one of his images in my view finder. I doubt I was entirely successful, because time and place are so integral to any good photograph.
I have yet to really look through the images I captured, but I’m hopeful that there is at least one or two I can call my own. If not, it is for me to look at my work and see where the similarities and differences are between the work of Me2 and myself and make the appropriate changes. Maybe I have been spending too much time in that short depth of field mind set and its time to shake things up again.
Movement and growth are always good.
In the mean time, I can’t wait to return to my beloved Pacific Northwest with the mossy and green lit forests with their golden streams… because that is my time and place.
Do your photos reflect the natural environment you live in? Does this environment effect the final outcome of your work? If so, how?