Last fall, Kit and I exchanged homes with a couple in Aix en Provence, France. It gave me the chance to work on a couple of long term projects. In France for several months, contributed to the excitement, especially being in the land of the Impressionists.
The first project, I wanted to capture, the beauty of the Camargue horses - famous white stallions which have been photographed so many times before. Since I had never been to the Carmargue, I was hopeful to find a way to shoot these shy animals- beautifully and for me. I'll post that project in a subsequent posting.
The other project- to raise my bar of creativity. I decided to create photo stories literally piece by piece, as a painter might compose on a canvas with only a vague impulse for guidance.
I'd shoot dozens of photos and maybe take small parts from some and make those parts into one photo. Not merge photos, not push a button and have them swept together, but built a photo part by part, piece by slow piece into one final story.
Composing photographs, in pieces is a challenge. If done correctly it must appear to be one shot. Taking parts from one subject matter, then another background and another, and composing a structure to make the parts of the whole fit together, it has to look realistic, fit and be compatible. At first glance, (and maybe second glance), it should look as one photograph.
I learned a lot in this composition process. It is what I imagine a painter does, beginning with a white canvas and a notion, not really knowing where the creative impulse might lead. In my case, a 19th century France theme emerged.
My overriding master disciplinarian was light. The light of each photo part was different, ( right to left, up and down, hard and soft, etc... ), so when the parts are brought under one belief structure, each light must be tamed, manipulated, gated just a sports team, working together to make it look like one shot.
My second disciplinarian was my mentor, Dirk. Thankfully, he worked with me, patiently rejecting 99.9% of what I passed by him. Finally, after months and countless iterations, he said "hmm."