In the midst of this pandemic, and having to stay at home with extra time on my hands, I've started putting together short videos that explore my photographs a little deeper. I'm so happy I have photos and video I can put together to give you some background, and to give the images more dimension. I'm calling them my Exploration Videos. This project has just begun, and I'm regularly adding more videos - You can see them here.
But I'm lucky to have any extra footage at all. Looking at what I have recently, it became glaringly obvious that in all my 30 years of doing this, I have almost no stills or video footage of me working and lighting images, or of the locations I shot in. I can understand the years before cell phones - people didn't just walk around with their camcorder all the time. Plus shooting video at night required a certain quality of equipment that was very expensive back then. These days most cell phones can easily shoot good quality video at night! Most of the video I do have of me working comes from the few times a TV crew came along for a shoot.
And then there's the other reason: I just didn't want to work that way. Shooting my images is a very personal and solitary and focused endeavor. Having someone taking pictures or video of me while I work is distracting. I've come to accept it as a necessary part of my job sometimes, but its taken a long time to get there. And I also didn't want to be distracted by having to document what I was doing. I just wanted to create my art!
With cell phones, and having their video cam and snapshot camera always available, I have slowly learned to shoot a little something extra because why not! Its nice to look back at the location I shot, and see what it looked like during the day, or to have other memories of it, like a little video walk through. And of course there's the images I shoot while scouting - that's when many of these images were shot, when I first see the location and take a day photo to decide later if I'll shoot there. (Before cell phones I never shot scouting photos)
My wife Nikki has also encouraged me to do more of this, and there's a ton of this extra footage that wouldn't exist without her prodding. Plus she has shot many, many great pictures and video during shoots that I'm using in these Exploration Videos!
I wasn't sure what any of this extra footage would add up to, other that just having some cool memories, but its all finally coming together! Recently I started putting these bits and pieces of footage together and found it so much fun to explore my images in a brand new way.
After making a bunch of these silent videos - using DaVinci Resolve, a powerful video editor - it became obvious that adding appropriate music would enhance them greatly. I have never done anything like this before and so I started looking for music. I came across a brilliant musician named Ketsa and have been licensing the usage of his incredible music.
The photo "Dumpster Dive" is a good example of how this extra footage can take my images a step further. A TV crew was there plus a friend who shot some great time-lapse. Combined, you get a good idea of what it takes to light up one of my images.
Alleys & Ruins no. 149, Dumpster Dive (Chicago, IL, 10:30pm). 30 minute exposure.