Apr 07, 2011
It’s 5 am, and first hints of daylight creep on the horizon. My model has spent the past fourteen hours at the studio, a significant portion of that time being bound and rebound in barbed wire. She has a job interview in a few hours, and if she leaves right now, she’ll make it on time. After all the work, effort, pain, and perseverance, we still don’t have the shot.
Reluctantly, I call it.
Neither one of us wants to stop. Both of us 100% committed to getting the image, entirely through lens and without photo manipulation. We knew it was close to impossible from the start. For every solution a dozen more unforseen problems arise to challenge the concept. There’s no How-To, no guide book, no instruction manual, nothing but to forge ahead into uncharted territory. We’re close. So close we can taste it. But we’ve run out of time and at that exact moment, have failed.
My hands are swollen and bloody, barely able to grasp the camera. Countless cuts, scratches, and punctures mark my fingers, arms, and legs. The task has been brutal, and I’m not even the one being bound in barbed wire. I extricate my model from the metal strands, her own condition perhaps worse than my own. Freed of the wire bonds, she slumps into a chair, almost too exhausted to stand. I begin shutting down lights and equipment in silence. Beyond the minor injuries and physical toll is the mental anguish of having absolutely nothing to show for it.
“You’re not going to sleep now for three days, are you?” my model asks, more a statement of knowledge than query.
“No,” I admit. “It’s going to torment me forever until I get this shot.”
Scrolling through the thumbnails on my laptop, I search once more in the hope that I somehow overlooked the one image that will present the model with her trophy, and if for only a brief respite, silence the tortured muse in my head. Every shot fatally flawed. Every shot missing something. Every shot a shadow of what it could be. So close, but falling short of the concept.
“I can’t let this go,” I make eye contact with my model. “I have to shoot this again, and again, until it’s the way it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t have to be today. It doesn’t have to be this week, or the next, or even next month. But, I WILL try again. If you don’t want to go through this again, I understand. This is fucking hard. I’ll find someone else, if you decide it’s too much. But, I hope it will be you. It should be you. You willing to try again?”
“Yes,” Hourglass responds without hesitation.
ONE YEAR LATER
My hands are swollen and bloody, barely able to grasp the camera. I extricate my model from the metal strands, her own condition perhaps worse than my own. Freed of the wire bonds, she slumps into a chair, almost too exhausted to stand. Weeks of preparation and two days of setup have gone into the last five minutes of shooting. A smile slowly forms as I flip through the images on the back of the camera. The vision in my head fades away, the image captured through the lens.
“In Desire” marks the first in of several image concepts in the works, combining industrial elements with the human form. A theme core to my work and driving force behind inspiration. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have friends and models like Hourglass who are willing to lead the charge, take the chance, and push the edge. Not easy, to be sure, and sometimes you fail. But as the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Cross-posted to deviantART.
Copyright 2011 by Adam Chilson