Dialogue. With @AmythiaGG.
f8 @ 1/160 sec. ISO 100. Canon 5D mark II. 70-200 f4/L.
When I was younger, I used to play backgammon regularly. It was my preferred casual game over checkers and chess. With backgammon, there’s both chaos and strategy — a hybrid between tic tac toe and poker if you will. Strangely, it’s best played with skilled players with some comfort with each other but who are not yet intimately (and I mean this in a platonic way) familiar with one another. It’s painful to watch beginners awkwardly count their way through a game. But with skilled players, it’s an effortless ballet where the rolls of the dice are fluidly played all while chatting about completely unrelated topics. When you have people who are too intimately familiar, the challenge of the gambling side of the game is lost as you can predict when they’ll double and when they’ll bow out. But when you’re still learning about the opponent, the conversation becomes part of the game, sensing weakness, probing for style, all couched in a discussion of the latest literary genius.
I think a good photo shoot is like that. I’ve discovered that the people I work best with can effortlessly move between deep conversations on the meaning of reality and lighter topics like sushi preference. But underneath the seemingly meaningless chatter is the goal of getting the model to open up and reveal her true personality rather than the facade she dons. The challenge is what makes shooting in itself interesting.
Not everyone is like that though. Last night, for instance. I knew five minutes into the conversation that it wasn’t going to work out. (And that’s the reason I always go for coffee before shooting with someone. At least with coffee, there’s the possibility that the moment you walk out the door you don’t have to deal with them again.) Here’s the thing though: it would have been rude to walk out at the five minute mark mumbling something about not having the right chemistry. And I hate being the bad guy. So my solution is this: When I describe how I do things, it sounds like a painful and onerous endeavour filled with all kinds of artsy angst. I like to think though that the reality is much lighter and casual. But when confronted with someone who I sense won’t work out, my (somewhat) subconscious strategy seems to be to ratchet the artsy angst to 11 in an effort to scare them away. Then, when they don’t return a follow up message or the follow up shoot never materializes, I can’t be blamed for not putting in a fair effort.
There you go. I’ve given away my strategy for alienating people and losing friends.