“Heeeyyyyy Madeline! Wanna participate in a little thingy I’m doing!?! I had this idea, and I’m pretty sure it’s brilliant…”
Of course, if a message starts like this, it’s definitely going to pique my interest. And if that message involves some sort of photography challenge, you better believe I’m going to say yes. Throw in the fact that said message is coming from my friend, Robert Cornelius (who is basically a photoshop god), I’m sold. No convincing necessary.
Which is why, last Sunday, my roommates were trying their best to pretend it was completely normal for me to be hauling 90% of the lamps in my apartment up to my attic studio.
So what is this challenge, exactly, that would require me to decorate my upstairs office with about ten more lamps than would be considered aesthetically pleasing? Essentially, Robert wanted us to create a piece without the use of natural light or professional studio lighting equipment. No stands. No umbrellas. Nothing. Instead, we had to use what we could find around the house.
Not surprisingly, I gave him a resounding yes, because I really believe in what his challenge is trying to prove:
You don’t need fancy equipment to create art!
(And because it brought back fond memories of my early days of photography, when house lamps were about all the “studio lighting” I could afford.)
So, being sold on Robert’s challenge, I started brainstorming ideas for my image and immediately knew I needed to have Freya in my piece. This was really the first chance I’d had to experiment in the studio since I brought Freya home, and I knew I needed her in the shot with me.
I immediately thought back to our trip back home for Christmas, when on several occasions, Freya managed to get into some bags of flour my mom had stored in the pantry, and boy… did she LOVE that flour!
As in she ate mouthfuls of it. Just straight up flour.
(She is weird, I know… she also loves to shred paper and eat hairballs… someone really needs to tell her she’s a dog and not a cat…)
But it kind of inspired me. Maybe in some sort of storybook world, Freya could have aspirations of becoming a cook? Or maybe she just really likes to be a nosey puppy and get herself into messes… Either way, I wanted to capture that memory, and so I came up with the plan to shoot “Food for the Soul”.
Above, you can see the setup for this image. I’ve also included an image below, detailing the set up for this piece. Off to the left hand side you can see three lamps. I wanted these to be my main source of light, so I clustered two of them close together and slightly in front of me. The third, I also placed to the left, but slightly behind me so there was a little bit more dimension to the image as it lit the back side of my head.
For the same reason, I put one lamp, still with it’s shade on, on the far right side of the scene. That way, it wasn’t complete darkness on that side of the image (thus, giving the piece some dimension), but it also gave off a much fainter light, allowing for the brighter lamps on the other side of the image to cast a more directional (and therefore interesting) light across the image.
I also decided to go full out with this challenge, and didn’t use my backdrop or other fancy props either. Both the tablecloth and the backdrop were pieces of fabric I had grabbed from the fabric store months ago, while the table is just a folding plastic table my roommate gave me when she moved out. All the items on the table are the jars, bowls, spoons, and ingredients I use on a daily basis in my kitchen.
Creating art really doesn’t have to be expensive, if you learn how to be creative with what you have. I just went to my fabric draw, my closet (I wear that skirt regularly), and my kitchen, and pulled all the most intriguing items I could find.
So there you have it! My contribution to Robert’s challenge… and now it’s one of my favorite pieces (probably because it’s the first with Freya in it)! So thank you Robert, for coming up with the fun challenge, and for including me! I’m ready for whatever challenge you have up your sleeve next (…in other words, please come up with another challenge)!