Tag Archives: portraits

Post #2: The Art of Halloween

Philip, Halloween 1970
Philip, Halloween 1969

Since I was a child, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I have to credit my mom for my love of it, she always went a little over-the-top with the decorations and even dressed as a witch on occasion to pass out candy. So when I moved into my loft 14 years ago, I knew I had the perfect place to throw one kick-ass Halloween party. And I have done that more than once. But the real (somewhat selfish) reason that I throw the party is so that I can photograph my guests in their costumes. And this project has evolved as the costumes have gotten more elaborate and the party (and guest list) has grown steadily larger.  And 2011 was the year the floodgates opened and the party probably had a little more oomph than most since I had skipped throwing the party in 2010.

DSC_1267
The Magician (2011)

My goal is always to find those people who not only have a great costume, they also have the ability to become that character when they step in front of the camera.  In the midst of a party with music, dancing and drinking, it is always both challenging and entertaining to give any type of direction.  It is a very rapid-fire style situation, so I shout a quick set of instructions (if I’m lucky) and then it’s time to shoot.  But even through the controlled chaos that happens during a party, I know when I have hit a good one.

The Lady in White
The Lady in White (2011)
Steampunk Accordian Player (2011)
Steampunk Accordian Player (2011)
A Beauty (2011)
A Beauty (2011)

These were all very memorable images from the 2011 party.  They were the ones I kept thinking about and the ones I looked for during the first edit.  There are always those that stand out right away and then a few surprises usually work their way in after the post-production work is done. Speaking of that, post production (dealing with PhotoShop) has not always been my favorite part of the photographic process.  My “workflow” has never been the smooth, thought-out process that most photographers seem to follow.  And I admit much of this comes from a rather strained relationship I have always had with digital imaging.  We just got off on the wrong foot……

Zombie Pirate (2011)
Zombie Pirate (2011)

But as I started working through these images, something about the process had changed.  I was pretty excited about getting to the images after the party, but it was my approach to them that was different.  I was making almost instant judgements and decisions on how I was going to interpret the images instead of thinking about it.  I felt unusually comfortable as I worked from image to image, very certain about every step I took.  And while each image seemed to have a clear end, no image took the same path to get there.

DSC_1405
Toulouse Lautrec (2011)
And a character from one of his paintings.
And his love interest, Rosa de la Rouge. (2011)
Angel (2011)
Angel (2011)

It has taken me a long time to have the digital process work like this.  Some early frustrating experiences did not help me embrace this new form of imaging, but changing my attitude really did.  It took me years to get a solid understanding of the darkroom, digital has and will be a similar story.  And regardless of what process is used to produce the final image, it’s still about lighting, composition and knowing when to push the button.  That’s photography.

Peg