Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Kid Took My Picture, part 3

Sometimes it helps to know the people you photograph...sometimes it ruins it all across the board. Sometimes it is best to only know someone for the brief exchange of the photograph...the five minutes, the thirty minutes, whatever it may be. It allows you to engage with the visuals, make quick decisions, jump to conclusions, put together the pieces and exit with a competant photograph. Sometimes a great one. Well, not really a great one, but one that you think is great for a day or so.

I really can't make a good photograph of my wife Cheri. The relationship is too complex, it is too layered, and the picture making process creates some type of inequality that just doesn't pave the way to a great photograph. I suspect I start directing things and she just doesn't like to be my beta...being told what to do by me...even for the duration of the shoot. My parents, it's a similar situation: the relationship has gone on too long, it's meant too many things, and it just can't be summed up in a shot. Friends are different. TB has had me shoot him and his family for various interviews and I've kind of liked the shots I got each time. SZ and I have shot each other tons of times and have got some interesting stuff that we always seemed to have learned from.

But really there is nothing that seems to bring out the best in a person than having a kid set up a Hassleblad on a tripod and begin directing the portrait. Amidst all of the shooting of the Echolilia project Eli has embraced the Hassleblad 501c, uses it with a Poloroid back and then switches to film for the shot. The succession of rituals is second nature, he never misses a turn of a crank or the insertion of a dark slide. No one in this family cares about the technical stuff. He is the photographer who can make my wife look GREAT and my parents look just wonderful. Above he sees us as this easy breezy happy no stress couple in our sunny home. The body language on Cheri is just what I'd want in the shot. He makes me look at peace with life.

Then above he gets on the Echolilia chanel for a shot we were doing together with the previously seen broken gumball machine. He shot me, I shot him, we messed around and the shot evolved in all ways. I think I like his best...we'll see when the film comes back.

Elijah Archibald with Hassy 501 c, 7/09


Anonymous said...

Really sweet. Nice pictures as well. I like the return of bw in the Archibald world...
Bringing the nerds and journalist world of early TA into the digital world.

bird. said...

Maybe Elijah's point of view as a photographer is similar to true surrealism in painting (like Miro, for example). Disclaimer: No, I'm not trying to build him up into some photographic prodigy (altho he could be if he wants to be), and no, I'm not talking about surrealism in a Dali psychedelic sorta way, either. I'm just saying, his views aren't as influenced/contaminated by the world as yours or mine are. True surrealism, they say, is pure, innocent, and juvenile (all things that have been used to describe Miro's work).

The connection that Elijah experiences with his subject is different from us in more than one way. How many times do you take someone's picture, and have them looking at you with as much curiosity or interest in you as you in them? Granted, that's mom and dad in the frame, and one of the things they love most is taking their picture. But I'm talking about something on a potentially broader scale. Giving him a Hassy and turning him loose could yield some pretty heavy shit... especially when adults are the subjects. Suffice to say, not many kids carry Hassies (but I hope when I have one, it does).

Being young is part of his process. It is something that we can't have, and will never be able to have again. It's our youth lost, and our curiosity in that. (Isn't that part of what you find interesting about him? His imagination? His thoughts? What goes on inside of that head?) I don't have kids yet, but man, I look forward to hearing their outrageous imaginations. With Elijah, the expressions that come from his subjects (you and your wife-- are there more?) in these photos are reactions to him and who he is. Not because of anything that he's done (except for, of course, when he's giving you direction)... but because he's young, and innocent. You feel no threat, because what threat could a 7 year old with a camera be? And maybe that's the secret...


Timothy Archibald said...

Yah, I think bird gets an A+ here.

I think the kid makes people look good on film because his subjects are responding to a truly eccentric 7 year old who is directing the photograph. Everyone is just amused by that. The subjects, here his parents or grandparents, are just kind of warmly entertained by this spectacle.

For my wife and I : she knows too much about my motivations, my agendas, the way I can use photography to tell my own story. She doesn't feel comfortable submitting to this agenda.

But a kid...he has no agenda. Let's make a photograph! Ok..we'll pose. What would you like us to do?
But really, the last thing I want him to do is ever enter a photo contest.

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