After looking over the DS106 Assignment Bank, I really wanted to do the assignment “Your Favourite Photo?” simply because I know without a doubt which photograph that is. Thankfully, I uploaded this photograph to Flickr about a week ago and it’s available for me to share with everyone!
This photograph actually has a bit of a history, which may surprise some people. I originally took this photograph back when I was in high school. I was taking a class called Commercial Photography with the wonderful Georgianne Stinnett at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies. One thing I should point out is that in order to get into this class you had to have first taken the Intro To Photography/Darkroom class, which was only offered through dual-enrollment with Virginia Commonwealth University. We did not use digital cameras in this class, instead using a variety of film cameras and even created our own pinhole camera! While there was another class that focused on digital photography, called Photojournalism, it was only open to seniors as a seminar. I also took the Photojournalism seminar, so I’ve had the pleasure of using both film and digital cameras. And you know the bad thing? I think film photography produces much more beautiful results than digital does, however I can agree that digital photography is much more convenient. I took hundreds of photos over the course of these three photography classes, however this one in particular is my favorite. This photo was taken a few weeks before Christmas in 2017 and is the result of myself and a few of my classmates playing around. We had been given permission to use a commercial-grade medium-format camera that needed to be set up on a tripod to operate. This camera was HUGE and it was physically impossible to hold it and take a still-picture. I remember the camera took Kodak 120 B&W film, which only allows you to take between 12 and 16 shots per roll of film. When these negatives are processed, they are about the size of your hand and allow for a great amount of detail to be captured on film.
After taking some test shots with a flash to increase detail in our photographs, we decided to play around with a photography method called “writing with light.” For anyone unfamiliar with this, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You write in the air with a flashlight for the camera to capture. Basically you set the camera’s shutter speed to “B” (which stands for “Bulb”), which means once you trip the shutter switch the lense with stay open until you manually shut it by pressing the shutter switch again. Usually a camera’s shutter automatically opens and closes, but this method puts you fully in control. I had a friend of mine stand in a theatre we dubbed the “Black Box Theatre” because the stage, curtains, walls, and floor were all painted black. This was perfect for the photograph setting since you need absolute darkness to “write with light” before tripping a flash to capture the detail of the figure. In this moment I was like a conductor. I stood at the front of the stand, setting up the shot, while one person controlled the light switch, another controlled the flash, one more used the flashlight, and my friend stood completely still in the center. With the room plunged in total darkness I had them draw wings of light around my friend. Once the person with the flashlight was safely off the stage, we released the flash and I closed the camera’s shutter.
I have the original print of this photograph at home, which I made in a darkroom after some trial and error. I gifted a copy of this print to my friend in thanks, and she loved it so much that she shared it on Facebook for everyone we knew to see. Afterwards I was approached by our instructor about setting up a gallery off-campus in Richmond that featured photographs from the Commercial Photography and Photojournalism classes in early 2018. I was in both classes at the same time, so I had to find a photograph from each class to include. This was one of the photographs I chose. I even still have the version that was framed for display, which I cut the matboard for myself!
Since then this photograph has lived on by being framed in my bedroom and has been the background on my phone since 2018. I love sharing it with people and enjoy seeing their reactions to the process. Making this photograph was not easy by any means, which is one of the reasons why I love it so. At lot of hard work and dedication went into it, which I think paid off!