Friday, July 31, 2009

Assignment #7: Dress Me Up

Among my circle of friends, I'm notorious for using props in any photo taken of me. Case in point? See below. Sometimes it might simply be my drink. Other times I might make a prop out of a nearby stranger. If there's anything around (really, anything) I will put it on my head, hold it in front of my face, position it inappropriately, do nearly anything for a laugh or an interesting picture. I know I'm not alone in this and if you really consider it, we prop-users are likely pretty insecure in front of the camera. We use them because quite frankly, we're not 100% comfortable just being our regular-old (and might I add fabulous?) selves.

Cue the transition to discussing Heather Cantrell's new exhibition, A Study in Portraiture: Act 1, the subject of I Make Picture's most recent art feature. Click here to jump to our coverage of Heather's show. It is certainly interesting to note the transformation of Ms. Cantrell's subjects in front of her lens as they cling to the various props and costumes provided by the photographer as a means of appearing more dynamic in some way than they would appear without them. This sort-of social experiment inspired I Make Picture's latest assignment, one of our most fun and daring projects yet:

Assignment #7:
Using at least one prop, create a portrait of a person you hardly know.

Sound scary? Don't think of it that way! Look, Lydia Hyslop and I (of LadyGunn fame) tried it first to make sure you folks at home could handle it. Using a digital camera and various props including, but not limited to a fake mustache (LA cliche, I know), a wig, a flower, and a silver bowl and whisk. We used the breakfast spot where Lydia and I work as a location, and set up a make-shift studio in front of which we asked customers to pose with their choice of prop. Who knew so many people were dying to don a twirly brown mustache? Anyway, the project was a great excuse to step outside your comfort zone, to capture a feeling of a person whose personality you haven't yet discovered, and a fascinating exploration of other peoples' public insecurities or considerable lackthereof. So grab your camera and try it out. Send your results to Can't wait to see the pictures you make!

Here are the highlights of Lydia and my photo shoot. Thanks again for all my willing models, it was great to meet you!




Shannon Leigh & Steve


Artists: Ashley & Lydia
Assignment: Dress Me up
Materials: digital camera (and some Photoshop), funnel, apron, mustache, wig, whisk, bowl, carnation, helmet/goggles

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