My Favorite Part of the Summer… every year…

Putt-putt at Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina with my whole family and the same decrepit safari animals that are older than I am.

These are my cousins…. they were featured here last year as well, and now it seems photographing them with our favorite fiberglass animals has become as much a tradition as anything else.

And appropriately, the 2008 series is definitely my favorite thus far.

This is my color version of Richard Avedon’s Dovima with Elephants. It was a happy coincidence.

I knew my cousin Riane was planning to wear her red dress, and I knew the elephant would be there, but it wasn’t until we were all standing next to each other that I saw the opportunity, and I was super super excited… I think the golf club is a fantastic touch.

And just like Avedon’s, my masterpiece has a flaw as well… I chopped the poor elephant’s trunk off. I would say, “There’s always next year, to try again,” except next year we are going on a special trip for my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary. And, who knows how long our poor elephant will be allowed to roam the Earth, since Ocean Isle has been trying to spruce itself up lately. So there is a strong probability that he may not be here the next time we return, and therefore this masterpiece will have to be complete as is.


(click image to enlarge)

For the visual style assessment Matteo Borzone and I chose Richard Avedon and particularly his work from In the American West.

“I’ve worked out of a series of no’s. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no’s force me to the “yes.” I have a white background. I have the person I’m interested in and the thing that happens between us,” Richard Avedon, 1994.

In sticking with the Elephant and Castle regeneration theme, we photographed people at the East Street Market. Our hope was to create an honest representation of the market population, yet still maintain a resemblance of Avedon’s style. We were happy with our results, but we realized that by not controlling the subjects as much as Avedon would have, we lost some of the artistic power in Avedon’s images. We learned a lot by working with a large format camera, and that technique will almost certainly be helpful for our future documentary projects.

We learned we needed to slow down and that means feeling comfortable with the camera and making sure the people know that this is a slow process. We needed to be a bit more selective with our subjects and we needed a larger white backdrop so we could have had flexibility to move the camera and to work with people who were taller or shorter (kids and giants).

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