Sunday, January 24, 2010

365/23 Ol' Jack Burton says ...

365/23 Ol' Jack Burton says ...

When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have ya paid your dues, Jack?"

"Yessir, the check is in the mail."

Jack Burton Big Trouble in Little China

Ok. Yes, I have a fascination with Jack Burton. Arrogant, cocksure. A damn-the-torpedoes kinda guy. Sometimes you need to be live that in life in order to get through it. Not that I ever do such things in real life. Ahem.

But, it was time for a new mugshot and I wanted something that would give the appearance of self-assurity, the notion that when, as Jack Burton says, you're up against a wall and being stared down at by some 8-foot tall maniac, that you stare right back. Not so much a "no fear" attitude. It's the perception of knowing what you can live through and knowing that even though you're likely going to get hurt, that you're going to take a few people with you.

I knew what I wanted out of this photo. Dark and brooding me. I didn't want that spark of life showing up in my eyes. The light? Highly directional and layered just enough to give some depth in the darkness. Not sure I wanted to fully project Jack Burton here. When you see him, you see brash and vigor, lit up in all it's glory. Flashy and arrogant.

Now, while fun to poke at Jack Burton and my goofy reasoning behind wanting a new mugshot, the "real" reasoning behind it has to do with a podcast I've been listening to lately, History of Photography by Jeff Curto. He's a professor at College of DuPage. One of the things that stayed with me from the first few podcasts was the discussions about portraits when photography first came about.

We've come a long way from that era where a portrait may have taken tens of seconds to expose. More importantly, we've come from an era where photographs were rare; imagine living in a time where you didn't grow up with photography. Imagine not having photos of your family or not knowing what a city on the other side of the world looked like, save for someone's impressionistic painting. Photos captured reality. It was world-changing. You don't think about this today when you're bombarded with imagery from all points and angles.

The discussion just got me thinking about keeping a documented history of myself as I age. And this mugshot was the next in a long line of photos. But, unlike Jack, I'll still be paying my dues for some time to come. The check, still unwritten, will be in the mail. That's a promise.

Some technical details: SB-800 through 15" Lastolite Ezybox aimed straight down and overhead about 1 foot from my head to camera left at 1/32. The bare-bulb adapter was also on the 800 to help soften the light just a bit more. SB-800 to camera right and behind about 6 feet back and above. Snooted with some blackwrap. Triggered via CLS with the timer on the camera.

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