When I shot this image, I was in a really volatile period in my life. I spent nights clutching my heart because the demons in my head creeped out of their hollow. I could barely move out of my room, I was left feeling paralysed by fear, self-doubt, uncertainty, chaos and loneliness. I was in photography school, living alone in a strange new city. I had no friends there, only acquaintances through school. I barely understood the language there, only a few stray words here and there made themselves known to me. I struggled with feeling out of place all the time.
Who was this girl who turned up to school with her full face of excessive makeup or none at all? Why did she never speak much with others? Why did she keep to herself so much? Why did she occupy studio space and take up equipment often with strange choices of inanimate subjects in front of her and decked with out of the ordinary colours?
My choice of vivid colours back then at least was a subconscious need to feel alive. I felt so numb, I felt so cold in my own life that I was hoping to feel more alive by association to these colours. The more vivid and poppy the colours, the more fear driven that choice would normally be.
Be sure to know I always ran into trouble back then trying to print these colours because they were never satisfactory in print, often out of the colour gamut because of my incoherent planning and inaccurate processing of images.
Everyone has a phase in life when they rediscover (or even come to be aware of) who they are. For some it happens at an early age, and nobody questions the changes they go through. And for some others, it happens at a later age. When you do change at a later age, your "image" changes, but you remain who you are. But do others still see you as who you are? Do you see yourself as who you are?
These questions are represented in the above image. Now, when I say banana, you think of the colour yellow, you think of the shape, you think of its texture. If I change the colour, change the texture and modify the shape, would you still see it as a banana?
The crux of the idea represented in this image is one of identity - my self-identity. I was unable to see myself as the same person from my past, and in my present back then. This troubled me to visualize my own future for myself.
Identity is quite broad and includes many aspects of the self. Your sense of self or identity is probably made up of your beliefs, attitudes, abilities, history, ways of behaving, personality, temperament, knowledge, opinions, and roles. Identity can be thought of as your self-definition; it’s the glue that holds together all of these diverse aspects of yourself.
Lacking a strong identity for myself meant that I couldn't keep up with the changes of the ever evolving world around me. The changes felt chaotic and terrifying. I had no anchor within myself, to then view the world with this anchor.
The Par is one of my favourite reflectors from Broncolor's lineup. It is a parabolic, aluminium reflector which intensifies the light source. Compared with a regular Broncolor reflector, the company's product website states that the Par boosts the light's intensity by 1.3 F-Stops. The Par was placed on the continuous light source, and I needed this source to catch the trails of metal painted with acrylic wrapped around the banana, as well the thread of the fishing net in the background behind the banana.
If you want to catch trails, especially when combined with strobe light where you are freezing your subject as well, choice of material/ texture is very important. Because the metal underneath the acrylic paint is naturally reflective, plus the acrylic also naturally gives a glossy finish - these are picked up by the light and painted as trails by the continuous light in the time the shutter of the camera is open.
The Litestick is hands down one of my favourite modifiers, after the Par made by Broncolor. The beauty of twisting and turning the light, and making it reach places where no other lamp can reach is incredible! The Litestick is a straight flash tube with a shield around it (that partly helps with heat protection). It provides a hard light, with beautifully defined gradations. I have an incredible soft spot for hard lights - more on this in other future posts!
The choice of using a Scoro over any monoblock (this image was shot before Broncolor announced their Siros monoblock systems) is simply to freeze my subject with clarity. The banana was going to be swinging in front of the camera fast, the netting as also going to be shaken with a lot of vigour. I needed the fast flash speeds, especially when the powerpack is being used at low powers, to freeze the banana without any motion blur.
You could argue and say I'm already catching motion blur with my continuous light, this would hardly make a difference. If the banana wasn't frozen perfectly, it's outlines would be blur and merge seamlessly with the light trails and this is not what I wanted. I wanted the banana to look crisp and clear, as well as motion trails. Small differences, but they make the narrative of identity stronger.