Each month, Hannah Gamble and I meet up to experiment on a new photography style together. Last month we learned about multi-exposures using her Canon 5D Mark III, which proved to be significantly more complicated than everyone made it seem, for reasons we still don’t understand. This month I wanted to experiment with clear objects placed in front of the lens to add an interesting and dreamy element to the negative space of my portraits. Hannah suggested we invite more photographers to experiment with us, so I asked my friend Shelby Eckerty, who is just beginning with her photography, and I invited one of my favorite actresses, Joseffa Tripp, to be our model. Unfortunately, since I had been busy all day on a commercial shoot in Dallas, I had no time to find my props (besides my crystal ball and a cheap plastic prism) until all the girls showed up for our adventure. So we made a quick trip to the local Goodwill and bought a frame that holds four 4×6 photos, and a 5×7 piece of beveled glass. Hannah wanted to explore downtown Carrollton, since we’ve all driven past it hundreds of times, but none of us had actually set foot there. As soon as we parked, I pulled the glass out of the frame, and asked each person to smash some glass for our shoot. (Not a bad way to start a session!)
Here’s what I learned from the experience…
- Using broken glass to fill in negative space in an image does make things more interesting, but holding a camera with one hand and a broken shard of glass at an arm’s length away is more complicated than it sounds, causing it to be difficult to frame the shot, get it in focus, and hold the glass in the right spot without your fingers in frame or without cutting yourself.
- Beveled mirrors also make good props, but are even more complicated than glass, because not only do you have to hold it in the right spot one-handed, but you also have to angle it towards something interesting as well.
- Crystal balls make for a great props for the model to hold, but they are not convenient for the photographer to hold, because they are too heavy to safely hold with one hand, and focusing through them usually requires them to be held more than an arm’s length away.
- Prisms can be a handy tool, but only if they are optically clear (unlike plastic), and they can be difficult to angle properly to get the reflection you want.
After 30 minutes of taking portraits with our glass props, we realized we hadn’t left from a gazebo in the town square, and decided to venture around and take some normal portraits.
Here are some behind the scenes photos by Shelby Eckerty. You can see more of her photos on her facebook page.